Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Defining Cheryl Atkinson

This video, which we think was filmed when she was interviewing for Superintendent of the Cleveland System, certainly gives us insight into the sincere nature of Dr. Atkinson. Her heart is obviously in the right place and she says the things we love to hear - that she values teachers and that we need change. But does she (or even, could she) really grasp the nature and size of the change required in DeKalb? Is she strong enough to dilute the power of the Friends & Family in the system? The very same people who have wasted our tax dollars and allowed our children's test scores to fall into the abyss are now the ones claiming to execute "triage" on their own results. Does she find that logical? Does she really believe that it's a good idea to place the responsibility of reform in the same hands as those who created the need for reform? Does she have the experience, wisdom and the inner compass to see clearly through the fog to the truth? Can she hear through the cacophony of strong voices advocating for their own power bases? Can she recognize the path that will show the way to a successful future for children?

Below is a chart from the Ohio Department of Education revealing the results of student testing in her 8,000 student district in Lorain, Ohio over the past few years. It's a mixed bag of progress, some areas advanced, some didn't.

Click to view larger
Then, there is a list of accomplishments posted all around the internet promoting her successes.  You may have already seen this list:
  • Raised graduation rate from 75.9% in the 2006-07 school year to 84.7% in the 2009-10 school year in spite of poverty level rate increasing.
  • State accountability for value added model (year’s worth of growth) increased from only one school making a year’s growth to all schools meeting a year’s worth of growth or more. 
  • Implemented full immersion Mandarin Chinese (only one in the state of Ohio in public school setting) and full immersion Spanish pre-school program.
  • Increased the number of foreign language course offerings at the high school.
  • Lorain staff and students have taken educational tours of China, visiting primary, secondary and higher institutions of learning through a partnership with the Office of Chinese Language Council International.
  • Implemented Success for All, comprehensive reading reform model for grades K-8: after two years of implementation, data illustrate an increase of student reading levels. Baseline data for the 2008-2009 school year indicated that 43.63% of K-8 students were reading at or above grade level. June 2010 data show 59.45% are currently reading at or above grade level, an increase of 15.93%!
  • Implemented one-on-one laptop initiative (all students grade 6-12 receive a laptop with textbooks loaded for their use during the school year).
  • Garnered a partnership through effective use of grant dollars, with NASA to implement a NASA Aerospace Lab for $189,000; and implemented the SEMMA program, a K-8 STEM curriculum partnership with NASA.
  • Successfully consolidated two high schools into one comprehensive high school.
  • Implemented Magnet Schools Program within the district to include the following themes at the elementary level: Science, Art, Literature, Math through Music, Gifted & Accelerated Academy; for middle schools: Accelerated Academy; Interactive Simulation (Animation), and Art; at the high school level: high school academies in STEM, the Arts, and Business and Entrepreneurships.
  • Continued to expand the preschool program which increased enrollment and collaboration with Head Start by 26%; instituted a pre-school center in partnership with Head Start; promoted preschool participation which resulted in a 28% increase in the number of students demonstrating readiness for kindergarten.
  • Secured funding to provide ACT for all juniors at the high school level to take during the school day (one of only two districts in the state of Ohio); imbedded ACT Prep Courses as a part of extra curricular offerings; and created a process to imbed ACT academic skills as a part of our required curriculum.
  • Established and implemented inclusion as the district intervention model.
  • Established a district-wide student uniform policy.
  • Established two alternative schools addressing student behavioral and academic needs.
  • Secured more than $18.6 through grants from state, federal and foundation programs to enhance the academic program.
  • Garnered full tuition scholarships for high school graduates totaling more than $7 million.
  • Instituted energy savings program which resulted in a savings of $2.9 million.
She is listed as a Broad Superintendents Academy 2006 graduate here. However, she is not listed on the official website of 2006 Broad Superintendents Academy. An aside: We found out that Ray & Associates have done training sessions for Broad.  They are connected.

We're also glad to see that she has kept up her teacher certification (See Florida certification webpage). This is more than Johnny Brown, Crawford Lewis, Morcease Beasley or Gloria Talley did.

Atkinson, Cheryl Lynn 534187 Bradford Elementary Education, (grades 1 - 6) Professional 7/1/2010 - 6/30/2015

We have done some quick system comparisons:

FY 2011 Budget of Lorain City Schools: $94,664,548 (DeKalb's is over $700 million)

Total Student Enrollment: 7,626 (DeKalb has over 98,000)

Student Demographics - Lorain
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

Student Demographics - DeKalb
Black 71.3%, Hispanic 11.75%, White 10.7%, Asian 4.4%, Multiracial 1.6%, Native American, 0.25%

955 Full‐Time

Approx. 13,000+


Items Of Concern:

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.

Big Red Flag: 

Atkinson answered “No” to Question #5 on her DCSS application: “Have you ever been involved, or are you currently involved, or do you anticipate involvement in litigation either as the plaintiff/complainant or defendant/respondent?” Yet, there was the case of Aliceson Humphries who filed suit against both the Lorain Board of Education and Cheryl Atkinson. She should have answered "Yes" and provided an explanation on a separate page, as required, about this federal lawsuit. It was recently settled, but lawyers were involved. Aliceson Humphries’ lawyer was Avery Friedman. The lawyer for Atkinson and the Lorain School System was most likely Atkinson’s landlord. Beyond answering "no" on the DeKalb application, it also appears that Dr. Atkinson didn't share the fact that the Lorain school system was named in the discrimination lawsuit with their board.

Additionally, below is one of three pleadings found online at where Cheryl Atkinson is the defendant. Obviously, Cheryl Atkinson has been a party to a bankruptcy with an adversary, which is a lawsuit, technically.

Click to enlarge

Further, there seems to be a possibility of another lawsuit looming on the horizon regarding an alleged change Atkinson made which enabled a lesser qualified student to claim the honor of being valedictorian for Lorain’s high school. The honor of being valedictorian also usually includes some significant financial awards such as full-ride scholarship offers. The full story has not yet come out in the media and it is unclear if legal action is being pursued. Click here for an article about the valedictorians in question. More research must be done to get to the bottom of this issue.

Ray and Associates, Inc. clearly states in their application package that several current letters of recommendation are required. Only one letter is provided by Atkinson and that letter is not on official letterhead. In fact, her recommendation is from the editor of the local newspaper.

She has several errors, or typos on her application to Atlanta Public Schools (click here to review). For example, she gets the title wrong for Broad Superintendents Academy. It is not Broad Urban Superintendency Academy. She actually made the error twice on the Honors and Awards page of her vita because she listed Broad twice in the very short list of honors and awards she has received. She even misspelled superintendent.

Reviewing the list of honors and awards, the first thing noted is that approximately half of what she listed is undated. She lists, undated, the "Vivian Burk Leadership Award", (sic*) but carefully neglects to note that it is from her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. *She spelled Burke’s name incorrectly. It is “Burke” with an “e.”  There are other errors in her applications that seem small, but make a statement about carelessness and inattention to detail.


So, pros and cons side by side, is Cheryl Atkinson the best choice to lead our school system into the future? We are impressed with her image and her sincere demeanor.  We like the one-to-one laptops, digital books and small, steady increases she made in some areas of achievement in Lorain. However, Lorain has only one high school and fewer than 8,000 students. We are concerned that she has no experience leading an enormous, unwieldy, troubled system like DeKalb. We're concerned that she has some legal issues that we feel need further investigating. And we're concerned that she will not be able to penetrate the very powerful adult-led friends and family system and make systemic changes necessary to become an educational leader.


According to the AJCIn a journeyman-like career, she has worked in 12 school districts in six states since 1982, including Georgia's Rockdale County. Records show she and her husband filed for personal bankruptcy in Norfolk, Va., in 1997. The filing was terminated in 2000.

Atkinson holds a bachelors of arts and a masters of arts in elementary education from the University of North Carolina, and a doctor of education in education administration from Virginia Tech.

In a prepared statement, Atkinson said, "My passion is to give all children, regardless of background and circumstances, a quality public school education."

The DeKalb board will publicly vote to install Atkinson as its new superintendent following the 14-day waiting period in late August, though the exact date hasn't been set.


Read the contract here.
Read her Atlanta Application here.
Read her contract here.
Read her dissertation here.
Read an annotated DCSS application here.

The 11 Alive News Team broke the story about the court cases.  View one of their reports here.

News reports from Ohio (history on Atkinson)’t-be-investigated/’s-federal-lawsuit-against-lorain-schools-is-settled/

Lorain Facebook


LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

Um, I leaning towards big fat NO on this one. I just cannot get comfortable with this choice. Though it sure has an odor of being a done deal.....

Anonymous said...

Our new AP, AKA, walks around like a chicken w/o a head.

SHS said...

Bottom line -- and all we need to know:

Cheryl Atkinson flat-out lied on her application for the job of superintendent of DeKalb County School System.

Atkinson is completely unsuitable to lead DeKalb County School System.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to get a head count of ALL the AKA's and Gamma's in our school system?

Anyone have a AKA directory?

I sure do see a lot of cars with the license plate AKA holder and bumper stickers.

Consider the amount of Hispanic / Latino administrators in our school system considering their dense population within our system.


Who's got the current AKA and Gamma directory?

Anonymous said...


What did she lie about?

The Deal said...

Probably a nice woman, possibly a good administrator, but nowhere near the experience she will need to survive in DCSS. Waaaaay over her head, and we are not a testing ground. We are in full-on DEFCON1. The problem is that DCSS and BOE think we're fine; therefore, we don't need a strong candidate.

Anonymous said...

"Although she claims to have graduated the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2006, Cheryl Atkinson is nowhere to be found on the Broad Superintendents Academy website – not even on the map that shows where Broad Superintendents Academy Fellows are working, nationwide. No one from Broad is shown in Ohio."

I found her on the Broad website:

Apparently she was in the class of 2006. She was not in Ohio in 2006. Maybe that's why you couldn't find her.

Anonymous said... from UNC-Charlotte, not UNC-Chapel Hill. Press release states Charlotte. AJC left that out.

Anonymous said...

""Although she claims to have graduated the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2006, Cheryl Atkinson is nowhere to be found on the Broad Superintendents Academy website "

Here is a pdf file from the Broad Academy website that states Cheryl Atkinson was a graduate (see page 3):

Cerebration said...

Thank you Anon!! I'll fix that right away...

Anonymous said...

"There is also a question regarding a federal case in which Adkinson was accused of grade changing. Click here for an article about the valedictorians in question. More research must be done to get to the bottom of this issue."

More needs to be known about this before we can say this is a con for Atkinson. According to one comment (out of 4 and granted it was Fact Checker - some bloggers say this is Lorain's 24 year-old PR person) say this had to do with the college classes one of the students took:

"This administration corrected a problem created by the previous administration. Lorain schools are NOW in compliance with State regulations regarding credits earned at either the high school or the college."

This sounds a lot like the Etowah High School controversy here in Georgia:

"Parents and students at Cherokee County’s Etowah High School are upset that the coveted title of class valedictorian will go to a student who has never attended the school.

Class rankings made public this week gave the honor to Kelly McCahill, who attends the University of West Georgia through a dual enrollment program at Etowah.

McCahill took the No. 1 ranking — and hence the title of valedictorian — from Sydney Perlotto, an Etowah student who has been tops in her class since the ninth grade.

This sparked an outcry over how the grade-point averages are calculated for students who are dually enrolled in the county’s high school and college programs......

McCahill attended other public schools in Cherokee County, but not Etowah, her mother said. She lives on campus at West Georgia, although she’s enrolled at the Woodstock high school. She’s felt a backlash since she was identified as the newly installed valedictorian....

McCahill attended other public schools in Cherokee County, but not Etowah, her mother said. She lives on campus at West Georgia, although she’s enrolled at the Woodstock high school. She’s felt a backlash since she was identified as the newly installed valedictorian."

Cerebration said...

This information was compiled from research done by several people - a true community effort. However, we are all volunteers, with other jobs and we're not perfect. Thanks to our regular bloggers for watching our backs and correcting our misinformation. If anyone else has something to correct or contribute, please share it. We want the truth - pros and cons.

It's like we've been through a terrible marriage and divorce and now we're considering a remarriage and we're really, really skeptical. We need to know who we're considering as the leader for our children's education. Warts and all.

One more thing -- please be respectful when posting comments. Stick to the facts the best you can. No name-calling or personal blasting. They'll be deleted.

The Deal said...

Video on Lorain schools from youtube:

Anonymous said...

It is so very unfair to sabotage this candidate because North DeKalb wants Brad Bryant as Supt. I wish I could see his application, since he doesn't even have a record of student achievement, nor has he been vetted, publically. All of this nit picking is sad. We need Dr. Atkinson. She has increased student achievement in a school system where poverty and academic achievement was in the ditch prior to the recession.
Since the BOE selected her and none of us have a vote then , I will support her. We need Dr. Atkinson. She is one of few who have been able to raise student achievement in a school system outside of Cleveland with an 85% poverty rate and student achievement in the ditch, prior to the recession.
Please stop blaming the present Teaching & Learning staff for poor academic performance. GLORIA TALLY was Deputy of Teaching & Learning when test scores tanked. Not a word was ever said about her on this blog. I wonder I don't.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 12:18

"Please stop blaming the present Teaching & Learning staff for poor academic performance. GLORIA TALLY was Deputy of Teaching & Learning when test scores tanked."

The Teaching and Learning Office for the last 6 years has seen a decline in student achievement as has the Office of School Improvement. Some accountability on the part of the administration would go a long way with taxpayers/parents.

Who says North DeKalb wants Brad Bryant? He was part and parcel of the group that ousted Brown and installed Lewis.

Anonymous said...

For the first time, two Board members are in the minority and they will do anything to have their way even if it means zapping our SACS Accred.Wow, the Tea Party is too alive in public education in DeKalb. Samuel King from Rockdale was interviewed and look at his track record. Wish I could sell my house and move their. Race relation are so much better there than in DeKalb. The same is true of Fulton, Cobb, Clayton & Atlanta. You don't have this kind of smear campaign going on thee.

Anonymous said...

Then, why was Brad Bryant granted an interview? Why did Fran Miller & the guy on the Georgia Gang place their endorsement of him in the newspaper and on TV? Just want to know? I don't give a flip about sororities and frats but I do have great concerns when a non-partison board votes alonf party lines and the Tea Party jumps in. This is not good for my childs' education.

Cerebration said...

Um... type "Gloria Talley" in the search bar above the Recent Comments on the right side panel. You will see in the results, we never, ever gave her a pass. Especially when she defended the $400,000 Hollywood trip for America's Choice.

Cerebration said...

You are also all off base with "Tea Party" comments. Those are radical, inflammatory, untrue statements. Paranoid actually. There is no Tea Party at work here.

Cerebration said...

Channel 11 has several reports on this.

Anonymous said...

I hope accred. is lost. The only way to get rid of the current administration is to have the state step in and flush it all.

betty said...

Don't know what SHS is talking about but...Another interesting note:

In March when she submitted her DCSS application: She answered NO to the question "Do you hold a Supt. license for this position?". Page 5/16 of the PDF.

By May, On her APS application she states she holds Supt. licenses in OH, MO and NC. Does not include actual certificate numbers or expiry dates. But states they are all still active, Page 6/8.

Dekalb record of candidates file,
Application submitted March 1, 2011 link below

APS record of candidates file, Submitted May 26, 2011 link below

According to Ga DOE, she would automatically be eligible for licensing in Ga. if she hold certification in another state. She should have answered yes on the Dekalb app. But why didn't she? It doesn't ask if she holds a GA license, it asks, do you hold a license for this position? Seems to me if you hold three licenses you would want DCSS to know it. I hope they fact checked this info. What does this matter? It shows a discrepancy.

Posted this article to another string on DSW. Check out this article from Lorain. They are already looking. As far as they are concerned it's a done deal.
Conflicting info all around.

But more than that, check out the comments attached to the article at the end. Are we having fun yet or what? They actually have the son of a Board member interested in their Supt. job. Whoopee! that sounds like a good time at those board meetings.

Gayle said...

@ Anonymous 12:31

"Samuel King from Rockdale was interviewed and look at his track record."

Sam King has taken a system with a fairly high poverty level (60% Free and Reduced Price lunch) as contrasted to DeKalb (69% Free and Reduced Price lunch) and from 2006 to 2010 every single school in Rockdale County made adequate yearly progress.

This year 89% of Rockdale schools made adequate yearly progress while DeKalb had only 35% of their schools making adequate yearly progress.

That’s the criteria I’m looking at. Sam King’s accomplishments for students is very impressive.

I'm not aware that the DeKalb BOE even interviewed him. When did they interview him?

Anonymous said...

Stop worrying, if Atkinson can increase student achievement of poor disadvantaged students, certainly she can make your high achievers jump hurdles.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! we're the CocaCola party. Homegrown with a aftertaste that bites back.

Open+Transparent said...

I'm willing to give her a chance, but multiple bankruptcy issues? For someone in charge of spending over a BILLION per year?
For a school system that already wastes tens of millions of dollars?

Anonymous said...

Virtually no parents want Brad Bryant (I think there is a small group from Lakeside, but it is very small).

What we did want is someone who could be a game changer. And by a game changer, someone who could bring with them a top rated staff of self starters with a proven track record of system turnaround.

I don't think she is the person, plus I don't think she will be strong enough to fight this board to make the necessary changes.

Rumor is that the board, as of last week, is still resisting efforts for Ms. Tyson to make staffing changes. No idea if it is true but given that Dr. Walker didn't want the cheaters punished, I can see that it might be.

Anonymous said...

I am not so sure that Sam King interviewed for this job. During the time we were interviewing, he was being courted by Cobb County and eventually, again during the same time, was offered the job.

During the two week period, I think that King couldn't come to salary agreements with the Cobb board and withdrew. He is already making what DCSS wants to pay and far more than Cobb pays currently, but for a smaller system.

I think Sam King would be fine. I don't think Walker would want him because he might stand up to him.

Cerebration said...

Someone shared this link earlier. It's produced by a Lorain woman running for school board.

Joyce Early for Lorain City Schools

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Great information Cere! Once again the teamwork of folks on this blog has given us a pretty good idea where Dr. Atkinson has been. Let's hope she is up to the task of turning around a failed system. Dealing with Dr. Walker will be her largest hurdle.

Her personal financial issues are a concern. I'd like to know the circumstances. Could it have been her husband who had the financial issues?

I hope she can bring some new blood to her leadership circle. I'm just not sure if she has a group of people she can draw from. One thing for sure, the second she is voted in the folks at the Palace will be scattering. Those in the preferred sorority will be safe, the others, well are there any others at the Palace not in the preferred sorority?

Paula Caldarella said...

There may be a perfectly sound explanation for the personal financial issues - we've all been through them, but, I am concerned why Dr. Atkinson did not share those issues on her application. That needs an explanation.

Where is the promised contract?

Anonymous said...

Rumor is that some folks have begun to announce their retirements.

Anonymous said...

According to Public Info Officer Jenkins at DCSS, he has not recvd said contract to post. It is still in discussion with the lawyers. We should keep looking at their website.

Anonymous said...

Let us pause for a moment and pray it was the Board.

Anonymous said...


That is funny and you are right. Saying my prayer now!

bills12man said...

The biggest problem with the choice of Cheryl Atkinson is that this Board made the choice. They have prooven that they are incompentent and just want to keep the stutus quo where they can get their family & friends involved in our children's education.
The only way to fix the DeDalb County Schools is to replace the board.

teacher said...

The biggest issues that I have with Atkinson are:

1. AKA
2. personal bankruptcies-other jobs in charge of this much money do a credit check and automatically dump candidates who can't handle their own finances
3. lack of school improvement in Lorain under her watch, with scores decreasing and the district is watch status
4. she was involved in SACS and we don't know who she knows/related to
5. We haven't met her, and our board has been hush. Those that support her, won't tell us why. I've asked.
6. It seems like a done deal and I feel like our kids are going to be the ones who get hurt further.
7. She doesn't seem to be on the up and up with her application honesty. A letter of recommendation from a local newspaper should not be considered a valid recommendation. She's worked at enough places that someone she has worked with should be able to write a recommendation for her, if she really is good at what she does.

Full of Questions said...

Does anyone know if members of the board are allowed to comment during the 14 day period? I'm curious why they are being so quiet while there are so many questions swirling around, many being posed directly to them via e-mail and phone converstaions. If they are not supposed to say anything, they need to come out let everyone know that. Otherwise it appears to eveyone that they are being evasive and uncooperative. Does anyone know what the law states around the hiring of superintendents, besides that a 14 day waiting period is required?

Gayle said...

The bankruptcy proceeding lists Atkinson as a co-debtor. Perhaps her husband was a small businessman. Look at Kathy Cox - her husband was a builder who went bankrupt. It was his business but her debt as well. Bankruptcy is a possibility anyone who is in business faces, and often the vagaries of the market are not under a businessperson's control.

Market changes, recessionary pressures, changes in regulations or the tax code, technology innovations, etc. can send any business into a tailspin.

If no one ever entered the private sector because they might go bankrupt, then we would not have an economy. Many prominent businesspeople have gone bankrupt and then learned from it. I read the other day that most successful Silicon Valley firms are headed by people who had one or two failed businesses before they started a successful one. They learned from their mistakes. Taking risks in business is one of the most important drivers of the U.S. economy.

Looking at her resume, it appears that Atkinson relocated to Florida at this time in order to secure a promotion (that's the reason listed). The assumption that Atkinson could not manage her personal finances is not the first conclusion I would draw from this information.

I'm more interested in Atkinson's ability to redirect resources into the classroom and trim the vast admin and support numbers from DCSS. I want to see student achievement on par with other metro systems.

While fiscal prudence is of great value, producing literate students is of more value. Ms. Tyson has balanced the budget, but student achievement has gone down dramatically. Is anyone satisfied with this? The overwhelming unrest at DeKalb is student achievement declines. Parents/taxpayers intuitively know that the value added in a school system lies more with student progress than with expense reduction.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I haven't seen enough yet to persuade or dissuade me on Dr. Atkinson's fitness for the job. I know we all want a strong CEO-type who will come in guns a-blazing and blow this mess up, but tell me -- who in their right mind would want to take this on? Do you really believe that (a) that person is out there, and (b) this board would actually hire them?

You could point to Erroll Davis with APS, but it took a national scandal and possible criminal charges to get to where they are. I rather not have DCSS reduced to a smoking crater like APS before changes are implemented.

Just keep in mind that our frustration should be focused more on this ineffectual BOE, and not necessarily at this candidate...

Anonymous said...

At the moment, I am more concerned about the lack of teachers in the classrooms (although the reason we do not have teachers available is likely due to the the supt mess). School had been in session for two weeks and there are several math teacher slots open at Lakeside. Is this the case at any of the other high schools?

The Deal said...

Anon 10:59, you nailed it. Most people's frustration is aimed at our BOE. Others who are defending Atkinson need to stop thinking that objection to her is personal. Atkinson's selection is a symptom of the overall problem of a dysfunctional BOE. The BOE needs to remember the directives from SACS - innovative leader with demonstrated success in a large, ethnically diverse system and more open and honest communication with the school community. Neither of those is happening in this selection.

Gayle said...

"Further, there seems to be a possibility of another lawsuit looming on the horizon regarding an alleged change Atkinson made which enabled a lesser qualified student to claim the honor of being valedictorian for Lorain’s high school. "

The article is quite benign. Reading the comments (and granted one of them is Fact Checker who is quite obviously emotionally invested in Atkinson), it appears that much of this controversy stemmed over college versus high school credits.

This was reminiscent of a controversy we recently had in Georgia although the Georgia one was much more controversial.

Does anyone remember the Etowah high school valedictorian dispute?
From the AJC:

"Parents and students at Cherokee County’s Etowah High School are upset that the coveted title of class valedictorian will go to a student who has never attended the school.
Class rankings made public this week gave the honor to Kelly McCahill, who attends the University of West Georgia through a dual enrollment program at Etowah.

McCahill took the No. 1 ranking — and hence the title of valedictorian — from Sydney Perlotto, an Etowah student who has been tops in her class since the ninth grade.

This sparked an outcry over how the grade-point averages are calculated for students who are dually enrolled in the county’s high school and college programs."

Both young ladies sound like terrific scholars. Personally, I wondered why they just didn't let them share the valedictorian honors.

I'm more interested in Dr. Atkinson's ability to bring in new personnel with new ideas - not the recycling of Dr. Beasley's and Dr. Berry's old ideas that have failed our students in the past and therefore give no indication of having success in the future. That's the big picture here. Will she make changes in the top level administrators and redirect resources back into the classroom?

Fred said...


I believe your post was very fair and balanced regarding bankruptcies. If someone wants to hold that against her without knowing the facts of it, they are simply looking for a reason not to support her. Your reminder of what happened with Kathy Cox is a great example.

I looked at her resume and wondered if her husband was in the Navy or worked for a Navy contractor. When you are an elementary school teacher, you don't simply move for an elementary school job in another city. Several of the cities where she has lived have Navy installations.


Would you have an issue with Dr. Atkinson if she was Baptist? How about if she was a Shriner or some other national organization. I think some of you are taking this being a part of a fraternity or sorority too far. They are service organizations and do a lot of good things in the community, especially in the area of scholarships. Yes, some employees go overboard with displaying their passion for their organization but to simply say they are bad because employees belong to one is just as wrong.

What is funny about these characterizations is that we live in the South where the good ole boy network is still alive and well. Could this be that some of those good ole boys who don't want to share power actually demonizing all others?

Anonymous said...

We should borrow the "Joyce Early for Supt. Loraine Schools" slide show! Delete the candidate's name !and the message for change in Loraine is the same as that of DCSS!
Without change-no change!

Anon said...

They can comment -- Fulton and Cobb both had many, many public meetings for the community to meet their selection and it was often a board member introducing the soon to be superintendent. Bowen was quoted as saying there would be no meet and greets and none seem to be scheduled.

Why are they hiding her?

Anon said...


I think that for many of us we have had experiences where the friends and family plan in DeKalb is really causing great damage to the educational system and so we may be over sensitized to it. The high level of affiliation and identification with sororities and fraternities after college is unique to the African-American community, but you are right the good old boy system exists in most places in various forms.

The problem in DeKalb is that it seems to have resulted in some dreadful hires. But again, this is probably true of many levels of government.

Kathy Cox left GA in part because she knew the bankruptcy would keep her from being reelected and she had to earn a living greater than she could make as a teacher -- if that isn't ironic. I am not saying that a bankruptcy should automatically disqualify Atkinson, but since you brought up Cox, I thought some clarity was needed.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
"Would you have an issue with Dr. Atkinson if she was Baptist? How about if she was a Shriner or some other national organization."

If a disproportionate number of people were hired for higher level positions were Baptist or Shriners, then yes - that would be a problem. Affiliation with an organization that has nothing to do with your profession should not be a prerequisite for employment or promotion. While this practice occurs in many organizations and businesses, the most successful businesses hire on merit and look for employees who possess the skills to perform the job functions.

Fred said...

"Affiliation with an organization that has nothing to do with your profession should not be a prerequisite for employment or promotion."

Don't pass out but I agree with you 100%. When I grew up in GA, it was the good ole boy network that determined what jobs you got. There was not a question about that, especially with government positions and contracts in small cities and towns. Who wrote most of the laws, guidelines and regulations for retirement benefits for government employees? It sure wan't anyone in one of the African American fraternities or sororities. This is part of the reason for the economic challenges our country faces today but I digress.

I have family members that work in various industries that ask from time to time if I know a good person for a position (It should be noted that this does not happen as frequently now as it once was). I would only recommend someone if I thought they could do the job. It would reflect bad on me if I recommended someone that would fail at that job. Coming to me was also cheaper than paying a head hunter for some of the jobs. Isn't this how things are done for many jobs? They key should be whether they are qualified to do the job. Affiliations could be family, friends, fraternity or sorority, college, church, other organization and unfortunately sometimes skin color. We've all seen it in all professions.

Most employees, DCSS included, work with placement offices for colleges and universities in the Southeast, when looking for new teachers. I recall at one time we had several teachers coming from Auburn. Does that qualify as friends and family if DCSS consistenly found quality teachers at Auburn? I think this is where it becomes a slippery slope when talking about friends and family.

Honestly speaking, I don't know of many that got hired from blind resumes. Perhaps it does happen but a quality reference can open doors. At you look back on your teaching career, was there someone you put in a good word for that did not work out?

In closing, friends and family was encouraged in DCSS going back to the days of Jim Cherry. Back then it was called the good ole boy network. Those were the days when there was no open bidding for contracts, you simply picked who you wanted to do the job. No one complained unless there was someone unqualified in a position.

Anonymous said...


You note, "no one complained unless there was someone unqualified in a position." This is precisely the issue. Anyone who has spent time in the DCSS knows that frat and sorority ties operate in place of competence. Have you actually seen someone like Simpson, er, "Simp," and his buddies at work? Those kids don't need motivational speakers. They need credible authority figures who know something substantive. These black Greek organizations have become a bane to black children in DeKalb county. It is that simple.

Fred said...


I don't know Ralph Simpson but I've read about him on this blog. What he did was wrong in selling books to schools he oversaw. As I've seen in many jobs, he was probably given a choice on how to handle his punishment and he took the demotion, keeping his retirement intact. He will have this cloud over him the rest of his career.

That said, why do you think he hasn't done anything substantive? From what I understand of his story, he pulled himself by his bootstraps and made something positive of himself. He had to have some worthwhile skills to be hired and rise up as he did in the school system. He was a role model for many fatherless students in the community.

Do you have proof he tried to influence students to join his fraternity if they attended college? Did he emphasize his fraternity over others? Just because he was affiliated with a fraternity, does that make him an unqualified educator?

I knew someone else with a story like Ralph Simpson. His name was Gary McGiboney. I don't know if he was in a fraternity but he was a great role model for many students in the school system as he also pulled himself up by his bootstraps to make himself a better person. Gary was from DeKalb so did that make him a member of friends and family?

teacher said...

@ Anon 12:43

Well said.

Fred said...

Culturally speaking, I see African American fraternities and sororities different than most on this board. I grew up during a time when not many African Americans graduated from college. Many that were in fraternities and sororities were also held in high esteem because of the community service activities they performed. To me, they were not different than those that said, "Go Dawgs", "Roll Tide", or "War Eagle". These were people proud of their affiliation and did not mind showing it.

I had an older brother that was a school principal (during the days of segregation). I recall he proudly said that several area schools had principals from the same fraternity that he was in. That was a source of pride because it demonstrated the quality of men that were in this fraternity. It should be noted that several of the white schools were primarly staffed by UGA graduates. No one thought anything about affiliations as long as they were doing their jobs.

Perhaps this generation is going overboard with displaying their school, fraternity or sorority affiliations. If they are , they should be reigned in. Do you tell all teachers that nothing of personal significance should be displayed in their classrooms? I think that is going overboard also. There should be a balance but I don't know what that is.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to call it like it is. Forgive my bluntness. This again is all about race. The South Dekalb folks want an African American, regardless of qualifications. God forbid anyone who has better qualifications and may happen to be white or hispanic or asian be given the opportunity to turn this unbelievably horrid school system around. We are in a public elementary school, but will likely transfer to private if we don't see some strong change implemented. I'm saving my pennies right now, because I don't think it is happening.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 1:16

You are absolutely correct, maam. If you don't have the right skin color, forget about it. A real shame.

Anonymous said...


In regards to "Simp," you write,
"he had to have some worthwhile skills to be hired and rise up as he did in the school system. He was a role model for many fatherless students in the community." I don't mean to be disrespectful, as I am sure you and many in your generation have earned your bones, but you're kidding, right? Simpson and his bro's are shysters. They embarrass us black folks, and they feed off the ignorance of the people they are supposed to help. "Role model"!!?? In what way, by boasting that he got a 400 on the SAT but still managed to get a high-paying job after checking out work in the "correctional field"? The only reason he got this job and rose the way he did because black people in south DeKalb reject people who try to tell the truth as "racists." I think the chickens are coming home to roost. We will get a separate school system of some sort in the north. Once south DeKalb loses the revenue (we are effectively on welfare now coming from the north)it will become one huge slum. But don't tell that to Jay. He says the redevelopment is coming. It is absolutely crazy what we have done to ourselves and so sad that so few people of Fred's generation will speak out loudly against the insanity.

Anonymous said...

@ Fred
"No one complained unless there was someone unqualified in a position."

"No one thought anything about affiliations as long as they were doing their jobs."

That's the point - upper management at DeKalb is not doing their job. Comparing DeKalb to similar systems shows that our students are progressing at a much slower rate than any other metro system. The outcome of the job is student progress on par with comparable systems. If upper management can't do that, they need to be replaced with someone who can do the job. Will Dr. Atkinson do that? If she doesn't DeKalb students will be in the same shape next year. Students cannot afford to lose yet another year of progress.

teacher said...

What really is the board hiding by not having meet and greet sessions and allowing the public to ask Atkinson and the board questions?

Having received my tax bill over the weekend and seeing how my taxes have risen for an inferior product that mismanages money, I am sicken.

This behavior of not allowing the public to ask questions and give their say, is down right disgusting. Every board member that went along with this way of hiring a superintendent from the leaks to the current mess, needs to go.

It sickens me that those, like myself, that don't support Atkinson have been called racist. I have worked in majority of black schools where I was the lone or one of a very few white people. Many of my friends (a term I don't use lightly) are black. This has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with qualifications or lack there of.

Our children deserve better. Hiring someone who gives a recommendation from a newspaper editor and has financial troubles of her own has no business running a school district with the size budget that we have. Her salary has always been well above average and if she and her husband can't manage their own money, I don't want her managing my tax money, as it's already being misused.

Don't understand why someone higher up doesn't try to stop what is happening with our district. Our children deserve better schools and adults in charge just don't seem to care.

Bhutrasgolly said...

I don't know if yuo remember this but where I went to college the ladies who were eligible to join AKA could not join Tri Delt or phi Phi or any othe sororities that excluded women of color. If we are to distruct sororities, service, organizations, and churches as some sort of conspiracy can we trust ourselves?

Anonymous said...

Now ODE has entered into the fray. With this letter attacking Nancy Jester and her position on Atkinson:
from an email this morning:

"Posted by: "David Schutten"
Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:17 am (PDT)

Dear ODE members,

I am deeply disturbed by the recent actions of DeKalb BoE members Nancy Jester and Don McChesney concerning the selection of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson as the finalist for the DeKalb Superintendent' s position.

Numerous members have contacted me to question why Ms. Jester and Mr. McChesney did not raise the same concerns when Dr. Lillie Cox was named the finalist. Dr. Cox had far less experience, and her experience was confined to one state. Many members are wondering if Ms. Jester's and Mr. McChesney's remarks ate racially motivated. At a minimum, I find their concerns hypocritical and disingenuous.

Ms. Jester's self serving, petulant and acrimonious words and actions over the last several months have done a great disservice to the FeKalb County School System. Two notorious examples: 1. Her bizarre letter, which was apparently still posted on her website as late as Sunday, attacking 5 of the BOE members who disagreed with her; and 2. Her vote against the SPLOST IV project list because it included rebuilding an Elementary School in Dunwoody after she had demanded this project be included at the previous BOE meeting about finalizing the list of projects for SPLOST IV.
Sent from my iPhone"

I don't get it why isn't ODE looking at Atkinson and either giving her a thumbs up or thumbs down. I have no idea if she will help teachers or make their life worse. Maybe there is some politics involved here that I don't know about.

Fred said...

"I don't get it why isn't ODE looking at Atkinson and either giving her a thumbs up or thumbs down. I have no idea if she will help teachers or make their life worse. Maybe there is some politics involved here that I don't know about."

You might want to look at the Cleveland paper that has the article from when Atkinson was a finalist there. Cerebration has a link to it on one of the blogs. Lorain has a unionized teaching staff and over 200 were scheduled to be laid off before Atkinson arrived. She worked with the union president and was able to save most of those jobs by securing grants according to the article. I would think those teachers reacted favorably to that.

It is still worth getting additional information on her relationship with the teachers.

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

Looks to me that ODE has no idea what a good leader would look like.

Jester and McChesney's letters were what I would expect from my school board members. I want to know how they feel. Why they like her or why they don't. The fact that other members have remained silent, even when asked what they like about this candidate is troubling to me.

This entire process from the leaks to now is why DCSS is so dysfunctional. I don't seen any changes with this superintendent choice. The only way out is if we lose accreditation and SACS makes the board change. If SACS embraces this candidate, which does not truly fit their desire in a superintendent candidate for DCSS, than our children are screwed, our home values will plummet even further, and we'll continue to be the laughing stock of the Atlanta metro area.

Anonymous said...

@ resident 2012
"FeKalb County School System?

Lewis and Tyson eliminated 600+ teaching positions in two years as they increased class sizes to heights unheard of in 50 years. This had a terrible impact on teacher morale and effectiveness and on student achievement.

For the students' sake Mr. Schutten should have been vociferously protesting the loss of hundreds of teaching positions. Just because no one was let go doesn't mean students suffered any less. Whether by jobs created by attrition not filled or laying off teachers, the effect is EXACTLY the same for students - up to 35 in a classroom is untenable for them.

"self serving, petulant and acrimonious " are pejorative terms. Surely the head of the professional organization in DeKalb did not use these terms in an email.

Are you sure someone didn't make this up?

Anonymous said...

FeKalb - yes because the school system is in the toilet.
I suspected that Atkinson had a positive relationship with a real union such as AFT. So ODE thinks we should cosy up with her for that reason. But without a real union they can be thrown under the bus as the system continues on its long train wreck. We need house cleaning and good management more that some old same old.

Anonymous said...

The email from Schutten is real.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that there is an elementary school in Chamblee that has a whole new administration. One of the few schools in Chamblee that has been making AYP for the last few years. However, the principal and the APs are not longer there. Two retired and one was transferred. The moral at the school is low. The new principal is a control freak and one of the new APs does not even speak proper English. But she is an AKA member. Sad but this is what DCSS has become. A bunch of sorority members that do not have a clue on how to run a school. The principal actually said in a meeting last May, "if you think hispanic students can't learn" I guess the only one that thought that was her.

Anonymous said...

Meet and Greet with Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson

Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

DeKalb County School District Administrative Complex (AIC), 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd, Tucker, Ga., 30083

The Deal said...

Perfect. We will meet her on a Saturday, and they will most likely vote Monday. Way to go, BOE.

teacher said...

Wonder how one signs up or gets their questions answered? Don't worry my questions won't be answered.

Hope this will be televised.

Also hope that we learn about her contract soon.

Cerebration said...

If you would like to read the contract, click here:

Cheryl Atkinson Contract

LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

$275K annual salary. Home office, $750 a month for a car, and a whopping $2,600 a month for expenses (no receipts necessary). Are you kidding me? That's more money than the governor, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but just a tad less than the former head of the APS. No, No, NO.

teacher said...

Disgust and stomach churning.

This is outrageous. Teachers have to supply all of their own supplies and the superintendent gets a home office, internet access, and $2,600 in expenses each month.

As a county we are screwed. She will be voted in on Monday, and our board of education has not listened to the people and answered our concerns about this candidate. Not one has stated why they think she is right for DCSS, other than being nice. Nice doesn't make a good leader and nice doesn't make the changes that need to be made to turn DCSS around.

Hopefully voters from around the county will open their eyes during the next school board elections and vote for people who truly care about the children and put the children above the adults and political BS that runs rampant in the district.

Thank you for these links.

The Deal said...

And more than the Vice-President of the United States.

Passionate... said...

Black and white! Sorority or Fraternity! I believe it is time for everyone to read The Great Adventures of Larriot the Liger. We are here for our children, our students, our future! It's time to stop bickering, stop fighting! It's time to get along, to support, to listen, to reflect, and to get our job done..."teach our children."

teacher said...

@ Passonate

Your comments about getting along would be fine, if the administration-at all levels and school board actually had our children's education as their top priority. You must also understand that getting along with the administrators and board of ed means that you do as they say, don't think for yourself, and allow them to keep screwing the children and tax payers.

Sorry, but I want more for my children and tax dollars than those running the schools. People need to be on the same page, listen to opposing view points, be willing to think about those views, and make changes where necessary. Our current board and administrators want things their way or you can go the high way. This is why you'll see more turnover again this year, and even more people scrambling for education alternatives for their children.

bu2 said...

So her real compensation is $315,200 at least.

What do they spend $2,600 a month on expenses for? Anyone have an idea? For IRS purposes, it is income since they aren't accounting for it. And the car allowance is nothing but an addition.

I think these types of perks are just bad policy. They create an appearance of some type of royalty. It would be better just to call it what it is, compensation.

Anonymous said...

"Why can't we all just get along?".

Tragic and true. The voters of S. Dekalb will continue to install their favorites. Race will continue to be a problem, the board will conduct business as usual.

Just so we are all clear here, When the spit really hits the fan in 2-3 years after more of the same and worse...we told you so.

'Tis all I'll say on the's a done deal. Was as of 11pm last Friday. Thanks Cere...keep on truckin' babe.

Anonymous said...

It's a done deal. If she last as long as most supers we'll be looking for someone else in three years. Did anyone consider that the board members were up against a wall in that the state might have moved to reduce their number if they did not get on the stick and hire someone. Certain BOE members do not have a life outside of this role. This is a rushed purchased to save the BOE's behinds. This is yet another reason to have NO pay for BOE members.

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon 1:05a "The voters of S. Dekalb will continue to install their favorites"

Why shouldn't they? What is the alternative you are proposing to the election process for BoE? I genuinely want to know.

Anonymous said...


I will tell you. Since all the board members votes on various issues effect my child and children all over the county, I believe I ought to have the right to vote on them as well.

I would like to voice my opionion, by way of vote, on some of these members. It should be a platform and the top 5 folks will be the board. They should be held accountable to ALL OF OUR COUNTY, not just their "district".

I believe this local system, while well intentioned, is flawed. And I think 7 is still tooooo many voices, too many personal agendas.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see a clause in the contract where the taxpayers will NOT pay enormous legal fees for any behavior that is considered unlawful or unethical?

Personally, I am tired of EVERY board member and higher up administrator thinking that they have unlimited legal resources!!!

What about stipulating in the contract to perform such duties as creating economic efficiencies by reducing central office payroll!

You really want to save money within DCSS?

Offer EVERY job to the public and see how many qualified people show up and offer to work for 30% of the salary! I know we could trim a lot of waste that way!

The theory is this:
The worse of a school system, there larger the need for the highest qualified personnel. Therefore we MUST offer the highest salary possible to attract the brightest and finest employees!

Look at where that has gotten us!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:31.
It is called general elections versus district elections. You want people in this county to scream RACISM? Try adopting a general election for the BOE!

You want to clean up the board?
This suggestion can NEVER be called racist!

Have EVERY person wanting to run for election or re-election, (and this can be for ALL elected officials), have to pass a credit check and a criminal background check.

Sounds like a good idea!

Anonymous said...

I don't know the history of the BOE elections in this county. I can see why some would always contend that it a racist move to have a general election.

I just believe that if a person makes a sensible case, presents a good solid foundation, aspires to really work that they could be elected outside of race issues. I think most believe that it is what a person does, actions speak louder than words, that would define what kind of Board member they would be. Or whether they should be re-elected.

Why shouldn't I have a voice in electing an official who makes policy decisions, spends large sums of taxpayer money and makes decisions that effect the future of all of the children.

District elections allows us to have representation but more often than not what do we hear from these board members: "I have to make decisions for ALL of the county, not just my district". They use this statement like a shield, why not hold them accountable TO ALL of the county.

Cerebration said...

And although I deleted the anonymous response to David Schutten's text message, I have to say, I am appalled that he would be so vociferous. His words were outrageous, divisive and harsh. Worse, they were not grounded in fact, but were based on his own bias. Despite his meek, mild-mannered persona, he has a diabolical way of expressing himself with his iPhone.


Ella Smith said...

Celeb, some have their own agenda. I found this out about some folks when involved in the political process.

I agree that it would benifit to have the entire board elected by all members of DeKalb County as they should represent all of DeKalb County in their decisions. I am bothered by the district representation as when they vote on the board they are to consider the whole school system. Many of the board feel they only represent their district in the votes they take. Their vote is suppose to take the whole county system in consideration. Our system is broken. This is one of the problems.

Race should never be a factor. The most qualified individual who can turn our school system around should be given the job. If this is Cheryl Atkinson she should be given the job. If someone was more qualified than she should not be given the job.

Having a superintendent come from the outside is a good thing. I am disappointed to hear she may not have told the truth on her application. If this is true I would consider this a serious offense.

Anonymous said...

Not many years ago, some school systems in Georgia wouldn't hire you as a teacher if you had a past bankruptcy on your record.

Anonymous said...

Board members should be appointed by a grand jury as they were in Georgia about 20 years ago. They could be vetted on possible past criminal records, financial irregularities, and ethical lapses; and, on a positive note, their aptitude for learning the ins and outs of educational policy, budgetary issues, and ethical responsibilities.

The superintendent would be elected by the entire county. There'd be none of the self-defeating factions that we see now.

I'd sacrifice the nasty political bickering around election time by nine (or seven) folks (those running and those not, but who are trying to influence the elections as sitting members) for the nasty politics involved in the election of a single superintendent.

I don't remember the rationale for Georgia's transition from appointed boards to elected boards, but it has proved disastrous for Dekalb County and many other counties in Georgia.

SHS said...

I am concerned about the bankruptcies that have shown up in Cheryl Atkinson's background. It appears that she has had more than one Chapter 7 bankruptcy and more than one Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A person who repeatedly experiences these kinds of serious financial issues is a person who could be tempted to solve her financial woes through misuse of funds.

Further, Atkinson has left a trail of financial deficiencies in school systems where she has been a senior administrator.

Someone with that kind of personal and professional financial history is not qualified to manage the billion $$$ budget of DeKalb County School System.

All that said, lying on a job application is unconscionable -- and it should be grounds for immediate disqualificiation.

Passionate... said...

@ teacher
You can’t always help who your boss is, or whether you get along with them perfectly, but there are things you can do to make sure that every working relationship is a respectful, professional and productive one.

teacher said...

@ Passionate

That may be true in some professions, but when your administrators do not really care if children are educated or educated well, that really is impossible if you have morals and know that what they are asking you to do is not in the best interest of the children.

Education has become less and less about educating children and more and more about making them feel good. Until parents wake up and realize that, our education system will continue to fail. Even those in "good" schools are receiving an inferior education. I wish that all parents would wake up and realize that.

Our older teachers who were educated "back in the day" understand how to educated children much better than the newer teachers from our colleges. I was better prepared to teach right out of the box in the mid-90s. Our older teachers are retiring, many only because they are tired of not being able to teach children, and not because they are burnt out and need to leave.

The only way to have a productive, meaningful relationship for teachers who truly want to impart knowledge and make thinkers out of our children, is for policies to change, teachers who are better prepared and who want to help our kids, for the federal government to stop the stupid meaningless programs, for people to stop thinking that more money means a better education, for new teachers to be better prepared to do the job of teaching, and for parents to wake up and realize that their children are not being educated or taught how to critically think.

Anonymous said...


How can one have a respectful relationship with a boss who treats you as if you are a child? As so many administrators,that I have had in my 12 years with Dekalb, feel that this is the norm. Not really sure if this makes these women feel mightier and powerful!

Anonymous said...

Business As Usual

There has been virtually no comment at all about Cheryl Atkinson lying on her job application materials. Folks, this wasn’t just a small oversight.

Atkinson answered “No” to Question #5 on her application: “Have you ever been involved, or are you currently involved, or do you anticipate involvement in litigation either as the plaintiff/complainant or defendant/respondent?” Yet, Atkinson was involved in an adversary proceeding in U. S. Bankruptcy Court (Adversary Proceeding #: 98-02135-SCS). Then, there was the case of Aliceson Humphries who filed suit against both the Lorain Board of Education and Cheryl Atkinson. Atkinson should have answered "Yes" and provided an explanation for each litigation on a separate page, as required.

Further, there is the possibility of another lawsuit regarding an alleged change Atkinson made which enabled a lesser qualified (although apparently well-connected) student to claim the honor of being co-valedictorian for Lorain’s high school. The honor of being a valedictorian also usually includes some significant financial awards such as full-ride scholarship offers. The full story has not yet come out in the media and it is unclear if legal action is being pursued.

Regarding Atkinson’s obligation to fully answer Question #5, here is the verification statement that she signed:
“The information in the Application for Employment is true, correct, and complete to the best of my knowledge. I certify that I have answered all questions to the best of my ability and I have not withheld any information that would unfavorably affect my application for employment. I acknowledge that any misrepresentation or omission of any fact in my application, resume or other materials, or during any interviews, may be the cause for my rejection from employment or may result in my subsequent dismissal if I am hired. I understand that, to the extent allowed by State law, my application file will remain confidential and, if I am interviewed, the interview will be held in a closed session.”

Further … Ray and Associates, Inc. clearly states in their application package that several current letters of recommendation are required. Only one (1) letter is provided by Atkinson and that letter is not on official letterhead. So, is it real … or another lie?

By the way, the BOE knew about Atkinson’s lying and bankruptcies. However, DCSS’s crack – and overpaid – attorneys assured the BOE that neither lying nor bankruptcies was a dealbreaker.

Is no one concerned that the BOE wants to appoint a person to manage a billion dollar budget who has apparently filed for bankruptcy several different times – under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

Is it possible that there have been no comments about Atkinson’s lies because, in DeKalb County, lying is business as usual?

Is it possible that in DeKalb County filing for bankruptcy instead of meeting one's financial obligations is business as usual?

And did I mention that there is a developing connection between Atkinson and New Birth? More to come.

DCSS has no discernible moral standards left. Atkinson will fit right in.

Anon said...

Anonymous, you have valid points and we should all be concerned about her application! I am surprised at the lack of public outcry about this. We deserve an explanantion from the BOE, Atkinson, and Ray and Associates - did they not vet her out? Lying on documents is grounds for dismissal in any other corporate setting. If Atkinson is willing to hide this, what else will she hide? If the BOE is ok with her lying about this, what other deceptions are they going to approve?

Do tell more about her connection to New Birth?

Anon said...

Are we ready for "Success for All"? Bye bye America's Choice. Hello to our newest packaged product: "Success for All"(SFA). Dr. Atkinson has implemented this program in 3 school systems according to her resume: Lorain, Orange Co., and Hampton Public Schools. She also did her dissertation on it.

Does this sound familiar? found on the SFA site:
#1. Monitoring student progress is an ongoing activity in all SFAF classrooms. A variety of tools are used to monitor student progress, some formal and others more informal. Informal measures include daily classroom observations by teachers, and classroom observations by school leaders. (instructional coaches you're safe!)
#2. SFAF provides intensive initial training combined with extensive ongoing coaching through school visits and national conferences. (Oh boy...another trip)
#3. It has an annual budget of about $50 million, most of which is derived from fees from schools for training and materials, supplemented by grants and loans from charitable foundations and government agencies.
#4. Doubt it is similar to America's Choice? Read on..The Consortium for Policy Research in Education did a comparison study of Success for All, America’s Choice, and the Accelerated Schools Project in its August 2009 “School Improvement by Design” report. The study showed that SFAF students scored 10 percent higher in reading proficiency than AC, ASC and all other comparison schools.
#5. If you are a Title I schoolwide elementary school, you may qualify for a grant of $50,000
to help with first-year costs.
#6. The majority of SFA schools pay for SFA using Title I and state compensatory education funding. Increasingly, SFA schools are receiving grants through the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration, Reading Excellence Act, or other federal and state sources.
#7. Bet it gets implemented and this criteria isn't honestly met: The overwhelming majority of teachers do support SFA. In the first place, at least 80% of the teachers in a school must vote in favor of SFA, by secret ballot, before we will agree to training.

Learn more at:

Cerebration said...

I have chatted with a couple of board members about this. Two law firms checked out her credentials and her background and the board was made aware of these legal cases. The board found her explanations to be acceptable. The bankruptcies were due to her husband's construction business and she didn't consider the harassment suit against the system to be what the question was asking.

Anonymous said...

"Two law firms checked out her credentials and her background...The bankruptcies were due to her husband's construction business "

I think that's a perfectly logical explanation, and the bankruptcies should not be any impediment to Dr. Atkinson and in no way reflect on her ability to run DCSS.

My best friend's husband is a builder, and they don't know how much longer they can hold on. My friend is an auditor and has always had a secure job, but her husband got caught with property in Reynolds Plantation (kind of like musical chairs - the last person caught with the property loses). I wouldn't say either my friend of her husband are irresponsible. Sometimes that's the way it goes - things are not always under control for a small businessman.

Cerebration said...

True. And we never had an issue that they HAD a bankruptcy - it happens. We just are not comfortable that she didn't put it down on her application in answer to question 5. It really wouldn't have been a big deal - in fact, I would hope that our incoming super would have LOTS of legal experience - cause she's walking into a legal nightmare. $15+ million and counting!

Fred said...

I wonder what Sandy Spruill is saying now that there is an explanation for the bankruptcy. We can't wait to hear about the trail of financial deficiencies.

SHS said...

Bankruptcy and Atkinson

Apparently Atkinson follows only the rules that she chooses to follow. Question #5 is clear: Yes or No; if Yes, then attach a separate page of explanation about litigation.

Husband's construction business bankruptcy? Really? Take a look at the bankruptcy papers. Go to

Nowhere is the construction business named.

Why is Atkinson's name the only one on Bankruptcy docket #1? Why is Atkinson's name the only name on the related adversary proceeding?

Why is Calvary Academy of the King named as a creditor? Does Atkinson send her children to private school? (BTW -- a bit of investigation reveals that Calvary Academy of the King also does business as Calvary Revival Church which is part of The Father's House, a nationwide network that tithes to Eddie Long and New Birth.)

Other creditors include Haynes Furniture, a dental practice, and a resort timeshare to name a few.

Construction business bankruptcy -- or personal bankruptcy?

Hmmm ... Alpha Kappa Alpha, New Birth connections, changes grades for the well-connected, follows only the rules she chooses, doesn't take calls from principals, maintains silence and/or half-truths in the face of questions and concerns. Yep. Fits right in with the BOE and Palace people.

Anonymous said...

Well said Sandy!

Anonymous said...

If you remember, another highly placed member of the palace brought personal bankruptcy with her to DCSS. Pat Reid (Pope), from Chicago. Her husband's business was construction also.
Deja vu all over again.
How soon some people forget what got us in this mess!

Anonymous said...

If you remember, another highly placed member of the palace brought personal bankruptcy with her to DCSS. Pat Reid (Pope), from Chicago. Her husband's business was construction also.
Deja vu all over again.
How soon some people forget what got us in this mess!

Fred said...

Still waiting for Sandy to show the trail of financial deficiencies in school systems where Dr. Atkinson has been a senior administrator. She was only in Kansas City one year before being offered the job as superintendent of Lorain. Would also like to see proof of the financial situation in Charlotte and Charleston that suffered due to Dr. Atkinson.

There is an old saying, if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.

Cerebration said...

Yeah, my mother in law used to say that. However, this is a blog, not Cotillion and we just put up the info as we find it.

I have never read into Sandy's posts anything about a path of financial destruction at the school systems where Atkinson worked. We have only talked about personal legal issues - and the fact that Atkinson did not disclose them on her DCSS application.

FWIW, much of the case made by Heery-Mitchell rests in the fact that Pat Pope is dishonest as evidenced by her untruthfulness on her job application. (Beginning with her name!) oy!

At any rate, yes, Atkinson does have past legal issues (personal) in many of her former communities. There are several unpaid bills which the creditors sued her for. She did not disclose this on her application and in fact, answered "no" to question 5 which specifically asks about legal issues. However, the board has been made aware of this and they are content with her responses.

Anonymous said...

Fred, you should take your own advice.

Everyone has a right to say their beliefs. There are many that do not like Atkinson, even those in South DeKalb. People are waking up and seeing that their kids aren't getting what they need and that those in leadership aren't able to put the children of DeKalb first.

Fred said...

See her post on 8/19 at 7:52. That's why I posted what I did.

If a reason for not liking someone is based on facts, I do not have a problem with that. Sandy mentioned financial deficiencies in school systems where she served, suggesting she may have had something to do with that. I'd like to see that back that up.

teacher said...

@ Fred

Atkinson's current school is facing financial budget shortfalls. That is probably what Sandy was talking about. Sandy is a lady of facts and does her own research before spouting off.

Anonymous said...

Fred, your standards are too low. There are still parents who would like leadership that doesn't come in the door shrouding the truth. But the BoE accepts this because it frees them from acting with integrity themselves. They now have free reign to be dishonest. That is the culture of this system. I scratch your back, you scratch mine. I won't ride you for misspent funds because you'll hired my unqualified grown child for a job. I won't disqualify you for lying on your application, because I've been bankrupt myself and have been sued by Ford Motor Credit. The BoE found EXACTLY the person they were looking for. Many of us simply wanted someone with a demonstrated track record of integrity and success. And really, when it is the current and past leadership and the BoE that has run this system into the ground -I find it completely disingenuous when posters blame other posters for the mess we're in. Truly it doesn't matter a whit if we "support" Dr. Atkinson. What does that mean? Our contempt of Crawford Lewis had NO EFFECT on how this district operated. He's gone because of criminal charges, not a "lack of parental support." Puleeeze. Ignoring the mess right in front of us doesn't help!

Fred said...

"Atkinson's current school is facing financial budget shortfalls. That is probably what Sandy was talking about. Sandy is a lady of facts and does her own research before spouting off."

This statement caused me to take a few days off, hoping someone else would point out how perposterous it was. The Lorain school district has had budget shortfalls for years. Prior to Atkinson arriving, over 200 teachers were laid off, almost 1/3 of the staff. She was able to find grant money to hire many of those teachers back. Add to that, the Lorain Board hires both the superintendent and CFO for the school district. The CFO that left the district prior to Atkinson arriving was blamed for unprojecting revenues causing the Board to over obligate on their budget. Atkinson was the one to help clean this up.

To suggest or infer Dr. Atkinson had something to do with declining property tax revenues is false and Sandy knows that. Sandy meant to suggest Dr. Atkinson was involved in financial deficiencies at school systems (that is plural) where she worked with the hope everyone would accept her word as gospel. If this is another example of facts and research, you have been hoodwinked again. Maybe she is a hero to you but submitting multiple ORRs (as she has indicated) takes employees away from their primary mission, educating children. It that OK with you, teacher?

Fred said...

Speaking of ORRs, several citizens indicated they issued these to see the terms of Atkinson's contract, while they were still working on it. What is posted still has a draft label on it. Is it possible a citizen (or media) issued an ORR for Cox's contract while it was still being worked on and revealed what was in an early draft version? Is it possible that one some called a leak really was the result of an ORR?

I still don't think Cox was interested in DeKalb and was using them as fodder for the postion she eventually accepted. News of the leak could have given her reason to bow out without having to say no to the offer.