Saturday, August 13, 2011

Background on Dr. Atkinson, the latest superintendent finalist

Does the name Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson sound familiar? It should. She was one of three finalists in the Atlanta superintendent search in June (none was chosen). In fact, she was also a finalist in the Cleveland, Ohio superintendent search in April. This is her third time at bat in 6 months.

Below is a collection of info found via a quick Google search:

Here is her bio from the Lorain City Schools website:

About Lorain City Schools:

FY 2011 Budget: $94,664,548


Student Enrollment: 7,626

3,711 Students in Grades K‐5
1,504 Students in Grades 6‐8
2,411 Students in Grades 9‐12

Student Demographics

30.87% Hispanic
28.01% African American
27.96% White
12.75% Multi Racial
0.43% Other

85.6% Economically Disadvantaged
17.8% Students with Disabilities
3.2% Limited English Proficiency

10 Elementary
3 Middle Schools
1 High School
3 Alternative Option Programs

955 Full‐Time
680 School‐Based
275 Non‐School Based
‐ 533 Teachers
‐ 38 Administrators
‐ 109 Paraprofessionals

For some background on Ohio's standards: There are 26 categories and six academic status designations.

The six designations in Ohio are
• Excellent with Distinction
• Excellent
• Effective
• Continuous Improvement
• Academic Watch
• Academic Emergency

Lorain City Schools -- on Academic Watch


Performance Index: (0-120 point) 78.1 points

Number of State Indicators Met out of 26:  1

The only passing category out of 26 is 11th grade writing.

Oddly, even though they literally failed in 25 of 26 categories, they still had an 84.7% graduation rate. That is incongruent and should be investigated further.

Superintendent’s message from the Lorain School System website:
"Listen to the clarion call for educators. We have the salient opportunity to report the excellence in education to all stakeholders. It is incumbent upon us to educate every child at the highest level. Our actions, through leadership, must insure equity, which represents both the powerful and the powerless.

According to Dr. Atkinson, Achievement is up in Lorain City Schools.
In spite of a $14 million deficit in June of 2007, achievement in Lorain City Schools has consistently been improving. Seven indicators on the Ohio achievement assessment test improved. In the 2007-2008 school year 7th grade Writing increased by 13% and the graduation rate increased 2.6%.

In 2008-2009 the district continued to see even greater student success by increases in 14 achievement indicators, highlighted by 4th grade Math increasing by 9.9%, 11th grade Reading increasing by 10% and a 2.3% gain in graduation rate. This year was the first time that Lorain City Schools received the rating “ABOVE”, which means a year’s worth of growth on the value added State Accountability System.

In 2009-2010 the district “MET” a years worth of growth. 9 indicators increased in 5th grade Math with an 8.5% gain and 8th grade Reading with a 7.8% gain. The districts graduation rate increased by 3.9% bringing the graduation rate up over the last 3 years from 74.7-84.7.

We educate all children at high levels. We can. We will.

(The data below is from the superintendent's page on the Lorain website.)

4th Reading Increased by 1.8%
7th Writing Increased by 13%
8th Math Increased by 1.1%
8th Science Increased by .5%
10th Social-Studies Increased by 5.4%
11th Writing Increased by 1.2%
11th Math Increased by 1.6%
Graduation Rate Increased by 2.6%

3rd Math Increased by 1.7%
4th Reading Increased by 7%
4th Writing Increased by 4.3%
4th Math Increased by 9.9%
5th Reading Increased by 2.3%
5th Science Increased by 7.5%
7th Reading Increased by 4.5%
7th Math Increased by .40%
10th Writing Increased by 3.6%
10th Social-Studies Increased by 1.7%
10th Science Increased by 5.3%
11th Reading Increased by 10%
11th Writing Increased by .60%
11th Social-Studies Increased by 3.2%
Graduation Rate Increased by 2.3%

3rd Reading Increased by 2.2%
5th Reading Increased by 1.8%
5th Math Increased by 8.5%
5th Science Increased by 1.6%
6th Reading Increased by 2.0%
6th Math Increased by 3.4%
8th Reading Increased by 7.8%
8th Science Increased by 2.1%
Graduation Rate Increased by 3.9%

This is the bio Maureen Downey had published about her when she was identified as a finalist in the Atlanta search:

Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson has been the Superintendent of Lorain City Schools since August 2007. During her tenure, she has implemented a comprehensive reform model, Success For All, which has increased Ohio Achievement Test scores in reading for all elementary and middle schools. Dr. Atkinson has also moved the district forward technologically by implementing an electronic grade reporting system, Progress Book, giving parents daily access to their children’s grades. In addition, all students in grades 6 through 11 have been issued E-books instead of traditional textbooks. Students now have all their textbooks loaded electronically on a laptop, which enables them to access the current learning tools and technologies they need to compete in the 21st Century workforce.

Dr. Atkinson was formally Deputy Superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, a district with more than 38,000 students and more than 70 schools. She also served as Associate Superintendent for School Administration and Regional Superintendent for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, a district with over 125,000 students in over 150 schools.

Dr. Atkinson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Learning and a Master of Education in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned her Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. She has been married for 21 years to Terrence L. Atkinson, Sr. They have three sons.

Below is a screen shot from the Ohio DOE website showing Lorain's test scores over time: (Collected and sorted by a DCSS blogger)

Click to view larger


Gil H. said...

A comparison of the numbers at a glance:
Lorain City Schools vs. DeKalb County Schools can be found here.

We're talking a BIG promotion for a CEO.

I would be remiss if I didn't remind everyone that it's critical now more than ever that we continue to engage and connect parents and concerned residents through the

DCSS approval poll

sponsored by Parents for DeKalb County Schools.

Anonymous said...

Before even looking at her photo via Google, I knew she was black. No way was a non-black, regardless of qualifications, was being hired. The Hispanic man from TX should file suit.

Anonymous said...

Hey, before everyone starts picking at Atkinson's record in Ohio, she has only been there since 2007 and it looks like there has been very consistent and positive improvement. Isn't that what we want?

Also, while the Lorraine school system is not comparable to DeKalb in size or demographics their stats show an important fact: Poverty, whether it is black, white or brown, is the common factor in low achievement. My guess is that Lorraine is a blue collar city with high unemployment.

Also, Atkinson has experience in larger urban districts like Kansas City and Charlotte. I presume that is why she made the final list in APS.

I think the questions should be 1) how will she "right-size" DCSS administration, 2) will she hire innovators, 3) how will she tackle our failing high schools, and 4) how should our district invest its Title I and RTTT funds?

Cerebration said...

Great questions, Anon. Any way to actually get them answered?

Anonymous said...

Teacher2 said...

According to the betterlorainschools blog, the Lorain district has seen its administration costs soar in recent years as enrollment declines. Dr. Atkinson will feel right at home here in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

"We have the salient opportunity to report the excellence in education to all stakeholders."

Uh oh ... hopefully, she'll be more substantive and direct in person ...

Anonymous said...

I put the phrase, "We have the salient opportunity to report the excellence in education to all stakeholders," in BS-to-English Google Translator service and got this back:

"The mouse in my pocket and I area very proud to hold this high level of public trust and are very sorry we have so little progress to demonstrate to you this year."

teacher said...

We all knew that anyone we'd get at this point was not going to be the best or brightest.

Cox was never coming. That's a done issue.

My concerns are does she have any ties to any sororities, is she the leader that we need to lower administrative costs and focus on providing our children a quality education, and does she have the guts to do the right thing

Anonymous said...

From Maureen's article:

"Earlier this week, a DeKalb parent called to tell me that Cheryl L. H. Atkinson would likely be named DeKalb school chief."

Sigh. It doesn't matter who is named superintendent. This Board is incapable of acting professionally and keeping their large, overactive mouths shut.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem so well liked back in Lorain.

No Duh said...

I think we have no choice but to welcome her and support her. Even though the people who chose her are complete nincompoops, the community (parents, taxpayers, etc.) can not risk alienating her from the get-go.

Perspection is reality. Will she see us as an angry mob, or as well-versed resources of "salient" information? Hopefully, she'll be reading this blog and the latter will prevail for her.

Dr. Atkinson, are you out there?? Join our discussion. Use this blog to get the truth out. Let us help you shape your agenda. As you sit with your cabinet and work with the BOE and try to assimilate the many things they are telling you, please don't forget to include the community as a source in your fact finding.

Remember, Dr. Atkinson, the community doesn't make any money off of DCSS. We don't have DCSS salaries (grossly inflated), our family members don't rely on DCSS for employment and our children don't get to pick and choose from DCSS' best schools. We only want what is best for all the schools and all the children -- in all of DeKalb. And, we have some pretty darn good ideas about what that is.

Welcome to DCSS.

No Duh said...

Oh yes, Dr. Atkinson. One more thing...

You better open a channel of real communication for the teachers or you will be doomed from the start. They are the real source of "salient" information about what our system needs and DOESN'T need (America's Choice, Esis, etc.).

With all due respect to ODE, go beyond their leadership and get to the direct source. Our teachers in the trenches don't have political agendas. They just have 120 to 150 children to educate every day. They KNOW what is making that impossible. Put them at the decision-making table NOW.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to pray for her...AND the children of DCSS.

Gil H. said...

Rather than resigning myself to believing that our fate has been handed to us, I will continue to strive to connect parents and concerned folks across DeKalb so that we may work together addressing our concerns. Just today we've had participation in the DCCS approval rating poll from parents from Clarkston High, South DeKalb High, Miller Grove High, and Redan High--not to mention a host of others that have been regularly showing up. Parents for DeKalb Schools now has a direct connection with motivated and engaged parents. We CAN work together to do things never seen before in DeKalb. Spread the word:

teacher said...

As I read this headlines from the above blog, I almost forgot that I wasn't reading about DCSS. Looks like we'll have more of the same. Our kids are doomed.

*Failed Lorain Shool’s head gets job in Georgia

Administration says approve administrators but we aren’t telling you what they get paid.

Administration slants information on spending to get levy passed

Administrator, oblivious to responsibilities, says she’ll start watching quarterly at academics

Another 5 years at $180K

CT-School Board sues BOE over failed levy

Failed District Gives Head 5K Bonus

Lorain not a “Top School”

One Big Conflict of Interest

Report Card Showing Failing Grade

Spending Woes mean levy in November

Superintendant’s Landlord named Lorain City Schools Legal Counsel @ $6K a Month

Superintendent claims improvement even though state indicators drop

Voters show no trust, 4.9 mill levy fails

Cerebration said...

FWIW, this is not officially a done deal. The public has 2 weeks to review and give opinions to the board. The board can't officially vote for 2 weeks. (Not sure it that means a Friday or a Monday - as they sent out the press release at 11:00 pm on Friday, so I don't know if that would count as a full day, since it was only one hour away from Saturday.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

If she puts teachers first and sends the hundreds of frat bros, sorority sisters, friends and family that work for DCSS packing I'll give her a shot.

If she keeps anyone on the "sit up here" staff at the Palace she will be doomed or should I say WE will be doomed.

This is why Tyson should do the dirty work of letting Turk, Berry, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Beasley, Clark and Ramsey the door or Dr. Atkinson will be finished before she even starts.

Cerebration said...

I have come to believe that Ramona won't do the dirty work even though she is acutely aware of what needs done.

Dr. Atchinson doesn't look like the tough type who would fire people. Even if she does, it will take her a year or two to figure out who to fire. Parents and teachers need to give her a clue ASAP!

Otherwise, samo samo. And that looks to be the case, because as qualified as she sounds, Dr. Atchinson has no power staff to bring with her. The DCSS "sit up here" staff must be elated!

Anonymous said...

We are screwed. Look at the website from her current city:

Sounds like the same crap we have here.

How is this better?

How about a real candidate for super?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the board caved to the pressure.

"DeKalb approached her unexpectedly in recent days, according to Atkinson."

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

The question is are parents and taxpayers ok with a mediocre superintendent? There are already concerns based on what bloggers are finding about her achievement results over her 4 years at Lorain, her 'friends and family' actions, the Lorain parent perception of her performance (as has been pointed out by one blogger who said the blog comments there sound like our comments and but for the name of the district could be interchanged).

Other candidates with better stats have been considered and leaks have prevented us from getting them. Are we
saying we'll just take this candidate, no questions asked and be stuck for years at the expense of the children (or
worse buy her contract out in 2 yrs. when she doesn't pan
out and start again)? Or should we let our BOE know we
expect them to find someone no less qualified than Duron
(who's still out there) or Cox. We have 2 weeks to let our BOE know our expectations. Our children deserve better than average. I don't agree with No Duh that we have no choice. As Cere points out, it isn't a done deal for 2 more
weeks. That being said, if the BOE votes to bring her here, we will all need to get behind her and share our goals, concerns, dreams for our students and this system
and pray she comes through!

Atlanta Media Guy said...

One other thing! One of the first PR releases by the new guy, comes at 11pm on a Friday night. What is Bowen trying to hide? Could it be Bowen the BOE are feckless and scared to death how WE will react?

Really? Friday night 11pm seems to be the only time that DCSS announces huge decisions.. Why?

Trust, Transparency, staples you can not find at DCSS! Way to go new PR guy! Bet you worked hard and really late to get that announcement out the same hour the morning paper goes to press.

Anon said...

folks -- I really think that the main m.o. of the BOE is to maintain the status quo -- I think that they've mislead Ramona to believe that "any day" there would be a new superintendent so that, therefore, she shouldn't taken any drastic action because that was for the new person to do -- they strung her along and she played into their hands to maintain the status quo. They've actively sought someone for the helm who can not bring folks with them to upset the apple cart so that they, too, can maintain the status quo... that's what some on the BOE really want: maintain the status quo. I think that Dr. Duron is much more qualified. Maybe not perfect -- maybe Texas really teaches to the tests... but I think they passed on him because he is Latino and, therefore, did not qualify on the "can we control him?" "is he the right race?" and "will he maintain the status quo?" fronts. The priority of the BOE is not to do what is in the best interest of the students -- the children have not and will not be pur first.

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

I agree Anon 4:57! Folks, contact your BOE members - all of them - and let them know the children deserve better and this choice is unacceptable. Any candidate with less qualifications than Duron does not cut the mustard and should not be considered. BOE, call Duron back.

teacher said...

Dr. Walker will be voting for this candidate.


I am sorry, but this is a done deal. The board does not care about our children.

When I taught in the district I felt this way, and resigned. As a parent and tax payer I don't feel any differently. I know that my child cannot attend DCSS under the current conditions and much improvements would need to be made before I would even consider it. As a product of public schools, I am upset about this. However, knowledge is power, and our schools are not creating children who are thinkers, problem solvers, and ready for the workforce when they graduate.

It's sad that the people elected to the board aren't capable of selecting a better candidate, as there have been many who have been better qualified considered. I guess change is difficult for some, and it's scary to think that the money might dry up for friends and family members. Hopefully, the smaller board will give us better candidates who put children above jobs. Although I don't know if that will ever happen.

I do know that DCSS is losing good kids every year, because of the poor quality of education. Educated parents are choosing other routes for their children, because even they see that DCSS is not what it once was (or at least what I heard that it once was.)

LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

Just a waitin for Belcher to spill the beans on the contract negotiations. I mean, fair is fair, right? Most likely Monday or Tuesday since he is off this weekend.

Her current school system has one High School?

Perhaps the Governor can look into DCSS now that his investigators have slowed down on good ol APS.

Anonymous said...

4:57 has nailed it. Plus, it is doubtful that she can bring her own staff, except the mediocre ones on the bubble. Ramona will be the senior advisor to show her the ropes. Marcus will snow her with his financial acumen and Morcease will marshal some new power words to impress her. Her own statement, as parsed by the Google BS to English translator, is of the same character. Dr Berry will lend a friendly helping hand in the difficult transition phase.

I hope that I am wrong, but it looks like at least two more years of the same. The Dr Walker faction should be happy since the family members will have contracts for at least that time. My opinion will change is some serious head chopping takes place come time for the contract renewals.

No Duh said...

"Perception" is reality. Lol, I made up a word earlier.

Shoes Keep Dropping. I meant no choice if she is ultimately seated as "our" Superintendent.

Fight like hell if you want for the next two weeks. Knock yourself out.

Owner of many, master of none said...

As someone else said on this blog, one critical variable in selecting a superintendent, should be that person's views toward working with teachers. At least under Dr. Lewis we had the TAC, now a forgotten entiry, which allowed teachers and administrators to meet on a semi-regular basis (6-7 times each year). We teachers now have NO voice in the curricular, salary, hiring, or school policy decisions that affect our workday lives and your children's learning. Does Dr. Atkinson want to hear what teachers think would improve kids' learning in DCSS? Are there unions where she works?--and how has she interacted with them? Does she care what WE think is wrong? And--just out of curiosity--where did that PhD come from, what did she do to get it, and did she get it at a place that includes books? No one with an online degree should be heading up such a large district, if only because a lot of us who work here actually did "do the time" in academia and respect it for what it can be.

Anon said...

She does appear to have a legitimate education from real schools -- she's much better educated than what we are used to seeing in DCSS. Also, it may turn out that she's an experienced teacher herself and inherited a messy system in Ohio. Ohio, also, has stronger criteria than Georgia so it may be that what isn't working in Ohio would be working here because our standards are towards the bottom of the barrel (check out the AJC blog on the NAEP report on what it means to be proficient in reading for 8th grade) -- Ohio has a pretty good system of education, as does Charlotte-Mecklenberg so she's conming from some environments that are better than ours....

pscexb said...

You ask several good questions, DCSS Teacher. Take a look at several of the links posted. I also read an article in the Cleveland newspaper about her that I thought was insightful. She was a finalist for that head position earlier in the year. It touches on several of the questions that you raised. You can see it at:

As I mentioned earlier, she has been through some vetting in the metro area given she was a candidate for APS. Perhaps we should reach out to those that attending the session hosted by APS where they introduced their finalists, to get their 'first impressions' and feedback. That should not stop DeKalb citizens from continuing to research her along with scrutinizing her history. Unless there are 'show stoppers' in her past, I agree with No Duh and say we welcome her. At this point, she is on track to be our next superintendent.

Let's ensure she listens to the concerns and priorities from the community along with that of the teachers. After all, we along with our children have the greatest stake in her success.

Joseph Hunt said...

While we were discussing the Board's choice of Dr. Atkinson, my wife asked, "I wonder who she's related to!"

I hadn't thought about that until now.

No, it couldn't be.

Could it?

Another of the usual connections maybe?

No dig on Dr. Atkinson, but definitely on the Board and it's Palace.

Of course, all of this is just pure speculation! ;)

Cerebration said...

This is good:

Lorain schools rolled out the plan for its Race to the Top dollars yesterday morning, announcing that a majority of the $2.6 million will be used for teachers within the district.

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson signed an agreement with the Lorain Education Association, committing no less than 80 percent of the federal funds to help teachers in the classroom, she said.

Lorain teachers win in Race to the Top

Anonymous said...

I attending the public meeting in Atlanta, and I must tell you, Dr. Atkinson is one smart, tough cookie. She is knowledgeable and instructionally oriented. She expects student and teacher growth and provides support for them. She addressed YTB and gave infor on where the Lorain schools were when she got there 4 years ago and where they are now. I was impressed and look forward to her leadership in DeKalb.I can't wait to see some educational growth, that is what education really is about.

Anonymous said...

It is totally unrealisic to expect any new Supt. to "clean house" without personal asssessment. We certainly don't need a puppet who will fire folk without "due process" and who are already under contract. Too much of our money is already tied up in law suits because of not following state law and Board Policy. I would suppect her experience in Charlotte-Mecklenberg will be put to use here in DeKalb, and any needed changes will be made next year in terms of personnel.However, I expect some instructional changes to occur soon and I pray we will not have to worry about SACS and can focus on student achievement. She will have my full support as I have 3 children in this system.

Anonymous said...

Wow, just got back in town. Kudoos to the Board of Education for selecting Dr. Atkinson and thanks to Mrs. Tyson for the awesome job and family sacrifice she I really think she would have made an excellent Supt. had she been given the opportunity without restrictions. Yet, I do respect the fact that she has young children and being a mother comes first. Whatever board member leaked Dr. Atkinson's name to Maureen should DEFINATELY vote aaginst her since he/she tried another attempt at derailment. A Board election will eliminate two board seats. When we see the vote we will know who not to support. Board members 8 A's & 1 F.
One last note the County Office deserved to be referred to by its proper new name.

Anonymous said...

Not a very strong record. She's definitely not top pay ($275,000) material. Is she looking for a job because she has apparently sought opportunities in at least two locations within the very recent past. She doesn't look strong - does she have the courage to lead? Will she be an "accomodator" that will simply put up with the cronyism and an incestuous bloated administration at the expense of the taxpayer or will she shake things up, cut administrative costs, develop teachers, and be responsive to the people?

We need to have a lot more factual information rather than the good words of Bowen.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bu2 said...

The board has had years to do its job. We need to be more vocal.

Kansas City was an absolute disaster as a school district. They had to close 2/3 of their schools in one year. It sounds like Lorain is not much better as she had to layoff 1/3 of the teachers shortly after she arrived. I have seen more than one person say Charlotte is a good district, but my relatives who had a child there say it was absolutely terrible. I'm skeptical about Dr. Atkinson.

In fairness to her regarding the school levy, Ohio has a history of turning down school levies going back 40 years. School districts have literally closed for weeks because they couldn't get an increase passed. Christmas breaks would last until mid-February. Its very, very difficult. I wouldn't hold that against her.

Factchecker said...

Its funny how this blog isnt talking about the recent scores for this year or the fact that when she inherited the district 230 teachers were laid off. How they lied about the budget to her but she overcame all of that .
The fact are below the local educated people along with the business community has seen growth.

Cerebration said...

FWIW, I deleted an earlier comment due to unnecessary name-calling. We have not brought race or gender into this discussion and will not be tricked into it by a hacker. If you have a comment about someone's specific record or specific data regarding the latest superintendent then bring it to the discussion. However, flat out name-callling will be deleted (without an explanation in the future).

Cerebration said...

I'm from a fairly small school district in Ohio, and they have never voted down a school levy. They have an excellent school system and focus on educating students by hiring the vey best teachers and administrators available and offering a deep, thoughtful curriculum, the details of which anyone can access online. Also, they have kept up with construction without having to resort to a penny sales tax. All that said, I truly believe this kind of education is really only possible in small systems. There are very few large school system with terrific educational results. I just think that we can never really offer a true student-focused education until we downsize the system.

Which brings me to the question - What ever happened to the regional plan? The Blue Ribbon Task Force concluded that creating regions within the system - and empowering the area superintendents to run them along with their principals - would be a smart way to streamline the delivery of services. Free-flowing transfers among the schools within these zones was part of that plan - along with cross-county transfers to special programs like magnets and themes. All student-focused initiatives.

pscexb said...

I just saw the Georgia Gang and towards the end, Dick Williams said Brad Bryant was endorsed by the governor, state superintendent, and SACS as the most qualified candidate. I thought Brad did a good job as Board member and chair, which involved setting policy. How can someone say that translates into being good in day to day operations especially instruction, which is the responsibiity of a superintendent? This fascination with him is strange.

Cerebration said...

To clarify - that "Regional Plan" was a totally different thing from the "Zone Plan" developed for redistricting. The Zones were about attendance and building requirements. The Regions were about creating essentially smaller, more autonomous school systems within a larger system. Akin to the small learning communities within a high school.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Melanie Stef, No one leaked the name this time. The new PR guy for DCSS released the Press release Friday night at 11pm. So no leaks this time around, it was an official announcement and after two weeks the BOE will vote publicly. Confused why they would wait until the middle of the night to release the name? What is Tom trying to hide?

There were no leaks melaniestef!

Anonymous said...

This is a pathetic choice. This person obviously lacks the experience required of the position. We are very dissapointed but not surprised.

pscexb said...

Atlanta Media Guy:

Is it possible the announcement was made when they could make it? What I mean is could they have been negotiating throughout the day and came to an agreement late in the evening? We see things like this with media releases all the time.

pscexb said...

There was some type of leak as Dick Williams of the Georgia Gang talked about her on his show. I believe they record this show on Friday which was prior to the official media release. In fairness, I don't recall him saying her name with certainty but he did mention her as a candidate.

Cerebration said...

Seriously? They record the show on Friday and they discussed this candidate by name? Recorded before the press release? Oh, brother.

Well, one thing's obvious. They had to send out the press release ASAP after the board extended a contract on Friday eve (whenever that meeting ended - was it a Friday meeting or the Thursday meeting?)


The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 4:00pm, Thursday, August 11, 2011, in the Cabinet Room at the DeKalb County School System's Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain. The called meeting will adjourn to executive session for the purpose of discussing legal and personnel matters.

pscexb said...

This may have been a timing issue, Cerebration. Let's say they voted during the Thursday meeting to offer her the job. She still needs to accept the framework of the contract. Our lawyers could have been given authority to work with her lawyers on that. That is why I mentioned Dick didn't say her name with certainty because they were probably still in negotiations.

Bear in mind, this is my speculation more than anything else. This also suggests to me that we could have offered other candidates the job yet it fell through in the negotiations. More than likely a 'Non Disclosure Agreement' was signed to protect the interviewee from possible leaks. I know I'd request one if I was interviewing for a public job like this.

Back to Dick Williams again, is anyone curious what SACS thinks of Dr. Atkinson. That could be a tell tale sign also.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

From what I understand it was the Thursday meeting. I never received an announcement for a Friday meeting. Cere, if there was a Friday meeting not announced, isn't this illegal? Surprised that the AJC or Richard Belcher wasn't called on

Obviously, we all know how Dick Williams found out about the choice, since they do record GA Gang on Fridays. Can you say Jeff Dickerson? You think Jeff knew and passed the info to Dick, since they do record the show early? If so, then there was a leak and Bowen should resign his chairmanship, since he can't control OUR BOE or he should investigate and find out who leaked. Once again DCSS = Epic Failure!

Cerebration said...

psc - how would we find out what SACS thinks? Would they even register an opinion of a candidate? Wouldn't that be a bit meddling? The edict was to hire a superintendent - I don't think they had any particular qualifications attached, did they? Isn't this the last "SACS box" to check? I think this may be the push that motivated the board. The news reports stated that the board kind of came to Atkinson suddenly of late - maybe they just felt the pressure. (?) I think they are afraid that if they don't find someone decent, that SACS and the Gov will step in - and that probably means Brad Bryant would lead the system for a while.

Rock and a hard place if you ask me. (Of course - they never ask me... LOL)...

Cerebration said...

You know AMG - I think you're right - I don't have an email about a Friday meeting. And there isn't one listed on the board website. So most likely, this was decided on Thursday.

No Duh said...

Maureen Downey SAID it was leaked to her. Why are we discussing whether it was leaked??

pscexb said...

Cerebration, 'on the record' I agree with you, SACS should not meedle in the superintendent selection process for a school district. 'Off the record', I would not be surprised if their opinion was asked about this candidate. That was one of the 8 criteria SACS wanted the school system to address. If I were a Board member, I'd want to know if they had any problems with this candidate.

If I had to guess, I would say she was acceptable to SACS since they had familiarity with her being a finalist for APS. As I mentioned earlier, if there were 'show stoppers' with her candidacy, many would have come up at that time.

pscexb said...

No Duh, go back and read what Maureen said, she carefully worded her comment by adding the word 'likely'. She also responded to Ernest and suggested the source could have been someone who saw or know her then speculated she was a candidate.

pscexb said...

Something else everyone should consider, this is why the timing of the hiring is so important. Had we hired someone in April/May, that person could have put their team im place before contracts went out. Dr. Atkinson, though she can put whomever she wants in key positions, must factor in the everyone has a contract. Those must be honored meaning she will use this period for evaluation.

Recall when Dr. Lewis was hired, one of his first moves was to replace Dr. Abbe Boring, who was over instruction. She along with Dr. Brown remained on staff and the payroll until June the following year.

Anonymous said...

Since it appears to be a done deal concerned DeKalb residents should unite and let our new superintendent know we have a voice and will not accept a continuation of the status quo.
among the issue she should address are:
1. The failure of the C&I department
2. The bloated administration.
3. Nepotism and the need to clean out and revamp HR.
4. Making DCSS a system that once again attracts and maintains quality teachers.
I would also like her to be aware of address the technology thefts and the failure of the bloated school police fore to do anything about them.

Anonymous said...

I am simply amazed at how the BOE strives so hard to keep the School System at below average.

By every measure, this candidate has failed at her current position and failed the students of Loraine City Schools.

The students of Dekalb, mostly the under-served and predominantly African American, will continue to be harmed by the actions of this board.

Anonymous said...

pscexb, you are right, what is all this with Brad Bryant. He was corrupt when he was Board Chair. He sold over 20 of his houses to DeKalb employees who all got promotions after the sale. This includes Lonnie Edwards, Robert Tucker, Marcus Turk, Jayan Allen, CRAWFORD LEWIS, Melvin Johnson any many others.
Brad was a good Board Chir with a very different Board, but is is no educator ND ON THE STATE Board couldn't help Clayton County with SACA. Brad is a politician. He should run as a Republican for ANYTHING where the public can voice there pinion through their vote. Brad was close to Crwford Lewis, as I would see he enter his office too often. WE NEED NEW BLOOD and iam happy we are about to get some for the transplant. I see pregress in the making. Let's help her make it happen.

Cerebration said...

I hear your point about the fact that contracts were renewed back in May due to the fact that the board had not found a new superintendent. Makes you wonder if that wasn't part of the goal. As Dunwoody Mom pointed out on the AJC blog, Dr. Lewis left the system WELL OVER 500 DAYS AGO. This process has been excruciatingly slow. And I would submit, perhaps deliberately so.

Enjoy those contracts people! That won't stop people who care about the well-being of our students from demanding your replacements the minute your contracts expire. You know who you are. If you're not sure, do a search on your name in the search box of this blog.

The time is coming to focus on children. For real - not just lip service. Hurrah!

bu2 said...


In many places in Ohio they can't get levies passed. Miamisburg and Youngstown are two that I remember. Many other blue collar areas have had problems. The school boards tell them they have no money, the state says it can't help and the public just doesn't believe them. In my school district they failed to pass a levy for building a new Jr. High even though the existing one was so crowded that 350 of the 450 7th graders were put into a wing of the high school. That same year between 10 and 20 school districts in Ohio shut down for extended periods for failure to get levies passed until the state stepped in and helped. I've read the papers since then and seen similar stories (usually the same districts).

I'm not familiar with Lorain, but the limited I know makes it sound a lot like Youngstown or Miamisburg were.

Cerebration said...

I understand the current economic issue - it's especially bad in Ohio, but I don't recall a 40 year history of turning down school bonds. But if you say so, I believe you. My Ohio experience has been that the strong middle class in the state supports all publicly funded initiatives like schools, parks and libraries. Of course, I'm from farm country. No, they're not fancy by any stretch, but they are of good quality and accessible to all.

SW said...

I am among the many who think that one of the first things the new superintendent should do is reduce the bloat in the central office and put more qualified persons in key positions.

My question is, given the contracts in place, what will Dr. Atkinson -- or anyone the board could have hired -- be able to do prior to the end of these contracts? If those people are relieved of their duties but we still have to pay out their contracts, there will be criticism. If the contract period is used for evaluation of the positions and the persons in the positions, there will be criticism.

So with regard to right-sizing the central office staff, given the contractual agreements and the legal ramifications that would result if there is an attempt to terminate these employees, what could/should we reasonably and realistically expect our new superintendent to do between now and June 30th that will not add to our financial burden?

bu2 said...


Since a neighboring school district shut down, I remember it pretty clearly. It may be a difference between the rural areas and the blue collar suburban areas in the state. I'm skeptical about Dr. Atkinson, but I don't think the failure of a levy is necessarily a reflection on her as some have suggested.

pscexb said...

Good question SW! I mentioned the situation with Dr. Boring earlier. You can also consider the situation with Pat Reid (formerly Pope). She was not fired, her contract was simply not renewed when it expired in June. The Board had a choice to attempt to dismiss her and possibly enter a legal fight that would cost money and time or simply wait out her contract. They chose the latter.

You can also look at what is going on in APS now. The new superintendent made a bold statement about not having educators alleged of cheating in the class room. Given they already had contracts, the teachers were entitled to due process. Now APS is paying for teachers not to work.

On a national level, you also saw this with the 'rubber rooms' in NYC thought I understand an agreement was reached with the union to have those individuals perform office tasks rather than simply sit in a room.

We should also note we see this in many government positions.

Shoes Keep Dropping said...

So...if they have contracts and the superintendent can't do anything with them until June (except pay them not to do their job and pay replacements if they can find the money to fund that), why is the BOE rushing to choose a candidate inferior to those that have been available? Let's get a change agent to clean house and bring in a strong person next summer if one isn't available now. If Atkinson isn't what we need, we are stuck with more of the same ol, same ol for years...

If Atkinson is willing to come this time of year, what's to say Duron, the stronger candidate and still available, wouldn't come if asked? Some of our BOE used 1 failing grade to vote him down but they are willing to vote for Atkinson with her record of only 1 passing out of 6 and in almost emergency status. Really? That's talking out of both sides of their mouth.

@resident 2012: it's only over if we all roll over and accept what isn't acceptable...bloggers, don't be back here next year complaining when things don't look any better... you have a voice these next 2 weeks and if you use it, you can at least have a clear conscience to sleep at night....same adage as voting: if you don't exercise your right to vote, don't complain about your elected officials..if you don't voice your concerns about this candidate now, accept the outcome for better or worse...can you live with that?? Do we serve our children's interests best by "taking what they (the BOE) give us?" I think not.

Some interesting facts off Atkinsons’ APS application:
1. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
2. 2006 Fellow: Broad Urban Superintendency Academy; First, it is actually called “Superintendents Academy”; One of their criteria for ongoing support: Fellows are expected to actively search for a superintendency in a large urban district.
3. Served on National District Review Team of SACS and Council on Accreditation and School Improvement for district accreditation for Cobb County GA and also for Onslow Co. she has connections to SACS
4. She lists 3 references: the Lorain Board President, the chief editor for the Lorain paper, and a retired deputy superintendent in Charelston, SC (yep – that’s how she spelled it on her ap)…where she served for only 1 year (2002-03)….it is odd she was in Charlotte from 2003-06 and used no references from there or her Broad teachers...
Odd references all around.. Oh...and she also has a sentence in her ap…..”which has transform literacy achievement in Lorain.”

What to Do? said...

I am not at all impressed with the selection of Atkinson. We have this business of a Friday near-midnight announcement, sorority connections, less than stellar use of the English language, and did I forget to mention, APPALLING school rankings in her current district, even if the latest rankings (yet to be announced) show a modest improvement. These are all BIG, BIG warning flags that we're in for more of the same shucking and jiving by the DCSS.

I'm genuinely curious about what effective steps can be taken in the next week and a half to keep Atkinson from getting hired.

Writing to our BOE representatives?
Threaten to vote out the BOE members that approved her selection? Won't that work only if South Dekalb citizens send e-mails of protest? How likely is that?

Continuing to fuel the media machine? Worthwhile, but so far not very effective in producing any change. There's no evidence that the DCSS staff have any shame or interest in the opinion of those who pay their salaries.

Beyond that, we can refuse to vote for SPLOST IV. I can't imagine anyone would vote FOR it, but I have been wrong before, and 'fools and their money are soon parted'.

I hate to say it - voting with your feet is probably the only truly viable option.

I'm not saying we should do nothing. I'm just wondering what to do that has a real chance of making a difference.

Anonymous said...

This may well be the last straw for SACS. With Brad Bryant's close connection to SACS and his candidatcy supported by the governor, SACS knows the BOE has selected a candidate that doesn't meet their specified criteria. Not saying Brad was the right choice - but SACS would probably think so.

On another point: where do I get my credentials as a member of the DSW Mafia? I thought I was just a concerned patent biut it seems some out there believe DCSS problems originated with this blog. Gee. For mafiosos, we should be way more nefarious.

Ladalang said...

It should be mentioned Ms. It should be mentioned Ms. Atkinson is touting a grade she hasn't yet received as her shining accomplishment. Be aware you have been infiltrated by a her fan club, although they are singing her praises but are ready to let her leave. They are unlike those of us who know what she’s made of and also want her to leave. The article regarding her most recent report card is just one small shining example of what you have to look forward to. She released the results over a month before they were due out claiming she knew the score. Yet a call to the BOE confirmed she has no way of knowing her grade. The grades had not even been completely calculated. Jumping the gun for any small shred of something positive in a sea of failure. And then the real snow job comes when she takes credit for the high school getting an effective grade as she claims but as of yet there is no proof. We just merged two high schools. Every single time we have done this in our district, we get an inflated rating for whatever reason. We had this conversation when they talked about the merger. To see this woman take credit for it is mind blowing.

If politics is what lands you Atkinson we here in Lorain pray for you. If you board can get their heads out of their asses, they will continue looking for a candidate that has a proven record and not one that just says they do.

Watch out for factchecker, he is the Lorain board’s PR Person and spends his days and our tax dollars on local blogs insulting voters and lying through his teeth. With the shift of new board members in November, we’ll have to make sure his grant money runs out. I’ve learned a good liar seems to work just as well as the truth especially when you have a newspaper complicit with upholding the fantasy.

Bewildered said...

Race should not be an issue in deciding who the next superintendent should be; however, with this Board I believe it is an issue. Cheryl Atkinson’s qualifications simply cannot compete with Dr. Robert Duron’s qualifications. It’s unfortunate that pressure cannot be exerted on this Board’s self-serving interests to do the right thing–reconsider hiring the best qualified individual–Dr. Robert Duron. JUST ONCE, PUT THE INTERESTS OF THE CHILDREN OF DEKALB COUNTY FIRST AND FOREMOST!!

Cerebration said...

Some data: I just added a screen shot from the Ohio DOE website to the body of this post showing Lorain's test scores over time. One of our bloggers took the time to research and sort for our review. This is the kind of data we are seeking.

betty said...

Plain and simple, this woman is a job jumper. Her list of employment in the last 20 years is staggering. This may be fine in the private sector but we need someone who is going to stick around.

As one blogger wrote in Ohio when considered for the job in Cleveland, her mo is to blame the previous administration for all her woes. Do we really need the constant rehash of DCSS state of affairs? We know the problems, in fact, just ask us, she will get an honest opinion of the real problems in DCSS. I don't want to hear the "Blame Bush" speech locally, if you understand what I am saying. Blaming others is deflection. Pure and simple.

Consider this as well, her application was submitted to DCSS in March. She was, at the same time, considered for the top job in Cleveland. And also at APS. What is she running from? She just got to Lorain 3 years ago. She touts herself as a person who comes in an fixes the problems. Not according to the parents in Lorain.

An eleventh hour decision is not informed, it's desperate.

Anon said...

She applied in March? Thought she said Dekalb recently approached her? She told her Board she was not actively seeking another job after being turned down by APS. Hmm...

Anonymous said...

Ladalang: thanks for the heads up...sounds like you are doing a dance of joy over getting rid of her. Many of us are not happy about this choice. Our board's freshness date expired along time ago.

Our current school system is failing our children and our board is responsible for fiscal ineptness.

Sounds like Dr. Atkinson's goals are to make the children "feel good" about themselves, make a few changes and proceed up the ladder. Good news is she won't be here long. Next stop, Federal DOE.

Anonymous said...

resident 2012: This sounds like a fabulous agenda. Exactly what needs to happen.

Question? How can you accomplish this if you start looking for your next job within a year or two? This woman ain't gonna be here that long. It is her record of moving on that proves she hits and runs before a consistent measure of her abilities is noted. She wont see anything through.

Anon at 8/13 8:50 am: Unless she is a real ball buster, which it sounds like she isn't, she is just more of the same. Changes like these require a strong business minded individual. No we are not a business, but the changes you are speaking of require this type of educator.

pscexb said...

Cerebration, thanks for sharing the chart as it really allows one to look for academic growth year over year. This reminded me of how ITBS scores were presented so one could do that. Simply looking at one year in isolation does not give the full story as you are also looking at different students each year. We wouldn't know the academic level each group entered school so that could skew the data.

To Anon @ 7:34, when hiring you rank your candidates in the order you would like to extend an offer. More than likely you rank the first 10 then decide a cutoff point for further discussions. The Board brought in their top 3. They all dropped out. The logical thing to do is go to candidates 4 - 6 to see if there is still interest. It doesn't mean to go back and see if their are more candidates that are interested that were not in the original pool though you could check to see if there is interest nonetheless.

Some of you are mentioning superintendents that were never finalists. The only ones that can be considered are those that can get at least a majority vote from the Board. Add to that, we don't know if any others had genuine interest in this job. It takes interest on both sides before you can get to a voting situation.

Anon said...

Are you saying the BOE should keep going down the list until they find someone willing to come - take whoever they can get? That's not good enough for our children. Maybe we need to get an Erroll Davis type for now and keep looking, instead of sign a binding contract with an average candidate. As the school year starts, superintendents interested in a move at the end of the year will start job searches.

pscexb said...

@Anon, how far they go down the list before requesting a new pool is something the Board has to consider. We don't know where Dr. Atkinson ranked on their initial list. We do know she was not in the top 3 but she could have been in the top 6. If their evaluation of her was close to that of the top 3, I don't think that would be 'settling'.

There is really more we don't know than what we do know with this hiring. In general, there are no guarantees with hiring. Many things beyond the control of a superintendent must happen for them to be successful.

betty said...

For anyone who thinks this ain't a done deal, check out this link. It's a story about the LORAIN school system's search for a new Superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Information is powerful when it is relevant. Many documents such as her personal finances have no place here. This is more like a witch hunt. Let either of you put your lives on display and it produces no "blemish", please be the first to continue casting stones. Since you have chosen to go this route, Brad Bryant's life is up for display (your superintendent want-to-be) and Robert Duron's life will be on display. Stay tune for the displays, I am sure the public will enjoy the juicy information of solid corruption.

Anonymous said...

So what personal financial documents are relevant? We have former DCSS leaders under indictment for stealing money from our children. HR firms routinely examine personal finances of potential recruits to assess their vulnerability and stability. Could they be bribed? Could desperate financial straits lead them to theft? These issues are routinely explored in the candidacy process. It is pro forma. Had this candidate disclosed the bankruptcy proceedings on her application (which is a public document), it would matter less. That she did not is worrisome because we are about to put her in charge of literally billions of dollars. And please, just drop the Brad Bryant fight. No one is pushing for him. Parents want a smart, articulate superintendent who can push back against a status-quo board. That's not Brad. But is it this candidate? There is little in her background to suggest so. And while some posters think anti-Atkinson comments are biased and hateful, it really just profound disappointment. Parents and children have been waiting for a true turn-around leader for DCSS. This selection is the last straw, as her record does not indicate she has the experience to lead a district as complex as this one. For many, this was the last gasp, the last try to hang in there with this school system. And now parents, en masse, are planning their departures. By comparison: look at APS. Davis is kicking butts and taking names. He is in charge and the BoE and parents respect him and are in support. That's the superintendent profile we wanted. But with this board, we will not get it. We will get a nice person - as Ms. Tyson was, as Crawford Lewis was - but not an effective one whose laser focus is improving student achievement so these children will have more fruitful, productive lives.

Anon said...

ODE has gone on record supporting her:'.Group.Supports.Dekalb.Superintendent.Pick. What data do they have to support her? The teachers in DCSS I know are not on board with this selection. How do our blog teachers feel about the ODE endorsement?

ODE, if you're out here, please show us the data used to support your endorsement. No one seems to want to share it.

Anon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

School has started and teachers at my grand childrens' school are excited and off to an excellent start.
It is time to accept the fact that we finally will have a new Supt... a new leader, who hopefully can concentrate on the school house and student achievement.
Please give her a chance to work on academicis instead of focusing on community meetings and poltical stuff. WE NEED 95% ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT. Let's give her the uninterrupted time to concentrate on instruction before we "'kill her" with public appearances.
Let us now stop and pause before continuing all of the negatives for which we do not have all or should I say few facts.
I look forward to a graet school year and as parents, those of us who can and make a positive difference.
Together we can make Dekalb Schools # 1 again if we can support a Supt who has a track record of pulling a targeted schools out of the ditch.

Anonymous said...

demiIt is amazing to me that some of the very same DeKalb County School Board members who would question the qualifications of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson for the job of Superintendent of DeKalb County School System were staunch supporters of Dr. Lili Cox for the job back in the spring of this year. Let’s do some comparisons, Dr. Cox was Superintendent of Hickory Public Schools in Hickory, North Carolina for only eighteen months. Her student enrollment was 4,500 students, 500 employees, and an operating budget of $40,000.000. She had previously been Associate Superintendent of Almance-Burlington Schools in Burlington, North Carolina for three years. Her other administrative position was Executive Director of Organizational Development for one year at Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has been at the helm of Lorain, Ohio school system since 2007. Lorain Ohio School System’s student enrollment is 7,626 students, 955 full-time employees, and a budget of $95,000.000. Dr. Atkinson’s previous administrative positions include Deputy Superintendent of Instruction in Kansas City Missouri from 2003-2007. She was also Associate Superintendent in Charlotte Mecklenberg-County School System, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Regional Superintendent in Charleston, South Carolina .

Dr. Lili Cox received all her formative education and educational degrees in North Carolina , and her entire work experience has been in the state of North Carolina . Dr. Cheryl Atkinson was born in Dayton, Ohio moved with her family to North Carolina when she was in high school. She received her bachelor and master degrees from University of North Carolina at Charolotte and her doctorate from Virginia Polytech University. Her educational experience has been in the states of North and South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio.

As you can access from the information and the data, Dr. Atkinson’s total executive experience mirrors more the DeKalb County School System than Dr. Cox's experience. Dr. Atkinson has worked in school districts that mixes urban, suburban with many multi-ethnic and cultural students.

Some Dekalb County School Board Members have questioned Dr. Atkinson's selection based on her Lorian Ohio school district's current statistics, but if you read an article about her job performance in the Cleveland Plain Dealer ("Cleveland Schools CEO Finalist: Lorain Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson," May 28, 2011) you would better understand how she saved a school district that was headed for a nose dive. Additionally, Alison Strouse of the Morning Journal, stated that the Lorain Ohio school district has made continous progress under Dr. Atkinson's leadership. Dr. Lili Cox has never worked anywhere long enough for you to adequately access or assess her job performance.

Is it true that the main difference between the two candidates may lie in black and white?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

People of other ehnic groups are still in jail in for stealing money. However, no other superintendent candidate has been scutinzed at this level? We have had a superintendent in DeKalb who was an embarrassment because he served time in jail on weekends for having two DUI's that we know about. So why has there been no personal scrutiny of white candidates?

Gayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gayle said...

@ Anonymous 8:30pm

"So why has there been no personal scrutiny of white candidates?"

Well, we've only had one white candidate while we've had 3 black candidates so the term white candidates (plural) is not correct. I think Cox would have come under more scrutiny if she had gotten as far as Atkinson.

Personally, I can't imagine why the BOE has not considered Sam King, Rockdale Superintendent, or Emily Lembeck, Marietta City Schools Superintendent, for this position. Both have had stellar results with students demographically similar to DeKalb. One is black and one is white - both have had great results for students which is the ONLY criteria that should be considered. Both have great track records - BEFORE and AFTER strict monitoring of standardized testing.