Friday, November 25, 2011

Half a Million in New Salaries for Adding, Not Replacing

Former colleagues are key for DeKalb superintendent

No family, but a few friends in high places in DeKalb

Big story in today's AJC with a follow-up Mo Downey Get Schooled blog post. The major problems with Atkinson bringing in three new administrators paid over half a million in salary & benefits (a whooping $160k each STARTING salary plus bene's):

-Teachers have not received a pay raise in years, and now pay more for their benefits.

-The Tom Bowen-led Board of Ed. decided last year to save money by significantly increasing class sizes, instead of looking at the spending and staff's of wasteful non-school departments. Not a peep from Atkinson about teachers having 30, 35 or more students in their classrooms, while she adds more highly paid administrators.


"Atkinson’s point person for instruction is Kathleen Howe, a former colleague of hers as a deputy superintendent in Kansas City, a district of 17,400 students and 2,300 teachers and other employees."
-So will Morcease Beaseley and Audria Berry be demoted and receive a lesser salary? What does this say about the massive, under performing Office of School Improvement? How about finally getting all that staff back in the classroom?

"Kendra March is DeKalb’s new deputy superintendent for school leadership and operational support. March worked with Atkinson in Charlotte at a district of 125,000 students."
--So will Bob Moseley be demoted and receive a lesser salary?
-As pointed out in the Get Schooled post, Kendra March thinks very highly of herself:
"“I was able to improve student achievement in all of those schools,” March said. “That’s what our mission is here in DeKalb.”
-I'm guessing that the teachers and staff who worked with her would have greatly appreciated her using "We" instead of "I".

"Gary Brantley, the chief information officer, will be in charge of all computers and technical equipment, such as digital “smart boards” for the entire district. He held a similar post for the Lorain City Schools in Ohio, where Atkinson was most recently the district superintendent."
-Current MIS head Tony Hunter was in the business world, from a computer that DCSS made a multi-million dollar purchase from, and was welcomed with great fanfare by the BOE and Central Office. So will Hunter be demoted and receive a lesser salary?
"Atkinson’s third hire is Brantley, who in Lorain helped the district move from relying on printed textbooks to electronic tablets that have all the textbooks loaded on them. “Society is moving fast and kids today need to be plugged in,” he said. “Technology can help us do that.”
-Why hasn't that happened under Tony Hunter and current MIS leadership? They have a great budget, getting everything they ask for from the Board of Ed. MIS may be the most underperforming of all DCSS departments. If Brantley just adds on staff instead of REPLACING staff, another major red flag.
Then again, if Brantley can stop from having so many computers walk away, and actually seem to care about DCSS computers seemingly disappearing like a 50% off flat screen on Black Friday, he's worth every penny (from March 2nd: Tony Hunter - asked for money to install software to track stolen computers (like a Lojack). Jester - any update on the status of the extensive theft of computers at Henderson? Tony Hunter -- we don't have the budget to replace all stolen equipment).

Dr. Atkinson had been well received across the county, including this blog, and everyone is on board to be positive and give her time to right the bloated, rotting, fetid Central Office.
But she knew coming in that downsizing the Central Office machine was a top priority, and hiring these three in addition to current staff instead of REPLACING current staff is a major red flag.


Anonymous said...

This was before Brantley:

DCSS MIS (Technology Services)

$13,337,208 for salaries of 246 Technology Services personnel.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the millions of dollars spent on the data center move.

--Movement of data center: Before she got into the State of the System address, she wanted to address a situation that she has had to deal with this week. MIS Department move and the $5,000,000 costs.

Ms. Tyson stated that everyone was getting in an uproar over the project. What was published on the website was the wrong cost analysis. They aren’t going to spend all that money on renovating the building; they just need to move the data servers to a secure environment. [When available, we will publish the new, improved, correct projected line item estimate for the move.]

When the decision was made to move buildings A&B to Mtn. Industrial (which was purchased under SPLOST II), there was no money to do anything until SPLOST III and Mtn. Industrial sat empty for years. Tyson said when the renovation started, she told "people" that they also needed to make sure the data center was included in that move, but no one listened to her and so it was not included in the budget. The data center was thus left behind in the now abandoned A&B, and it holds all personnel records, student records, vendor payment info, and the entire telecom system for DCSS (she added that all DCSS phones from every school connect back to the data center, including 911 calls, so they all have to route through there!). Additionally, the entire fiber optic network for DCSS runs out of there (she was very proud that DCSS owns it, and does not lease it like other systems; she said for once "we have something Gwinnett wants"). So, if the Data center falls apart, the whole system crumbles, and this is a risk if it is left in a decommissioned building.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Was any of this ever implemented?

Three-Year Technology Plan
July 1,, 2009 – June 30, 2012

The DCSS Management Information Systems Department (MIS) has created the Technology Plan to
keep up with progress and excitement. The plan resonates the passion for extended and expanded
learning fueled by efficient and effective integration of technology and the mission and goal of the
district. The mission of the MIS Department is to establish and maintain a technology-rich teaching
and learning environment where students and staff develop 21st century skills to be successful
citizens in a global community. More so, the mission is to enable students with the skills they
will need to work, learn, and live in their future.

The vision starts with the District’s instructional plan that calls for effective and efficient uses
of all resources that ultimately influence student achievement. As it relates to technology, the
DCSS Technology Plan is characterized by purposeful and seamless integration of technology that:
• Efficiently utilizes and imbeds the resources that support student achievement.
• Efficiently provides seamless operations that facilitate the day-to-day work-flow,
productivity, and communication of all functions of the school system.
The ultimate challenge for the MIS Department is to be responsive to the present educational needs
of the district and at the same time anticipate the future. It is the responsibility of the department to
collaborate with the Department of Instruction, Department of Special Services, and the
Superintendent’s Executive Cabinet on the effective and efficient use of technology for the school
system. More than a vision, it is the dream of the DCSS MIS Department that such efficiency and
effectiveness will allow access to information, opportunities for exploration, and uninterrupted
instruction that promises learning anytime, anywhere, for anyone. This is a plan for children who
have changed the landscape of learning. These are the children who come to the classroom wired,
connected, and full of expectations. They are twitting, blogging, editing wikis, creating podcast,
storing digital images, checking internet sites, e-mailing, tele-conferencing with friends across the
country, and downloading current events while writing an essay.

Cynical in Chamblee said...

Time will tell. In March, we will see if Dr. Atkinson is going to ride the "status quo" fence, or get down off of the fence on the side of the students, teachers and tax payers. If her new administrative team continues to "hand out" big contracts and/or "re-assign" all of the people that got DeKalb into this mess, then the grass will not be greener. However, the pockets of the problem makers, not the problem solvers will be.

Hopefully, she will find the fortitude to cancel DeKalb's "friends and family" plan and not "hand out" contracts to the people mentioned in the post, along with many others in the Central office that continually take dollars away from the class room and the students. As I have said many times before, in spite of what you hear, DeKalb is not a poor system, it is a poorly managed system.

Anonymous said...

In 30+ years of service as an educator, I've seen more "ego" and your "I-ness" working with DCSS than other school districts. It is the "we" that's important--the trouble is due to this "I" complex. We have to purge this ego. Please, let's not have this "I-ness" coming from the top. Now in my late 50s, I've seen many in leadership (and teachers) who DO NOT understand this is detrimental to overall progress and positive change. I was once young and grew to learn this fact of life.

Anonymous said...

Wow, every BOE member, parent and teacher should read the Three-Year Technology Plan.

I remember that teachers were mad that no actual teachers were on the group that drafted the plan.

But if just a fraction of what the plan proposes would every go into effect, it would be 1000x better than what we teachers face now.

MIS should be doing everything possible to improve learning and teaching. Instead, it's another fiefdom that drains resources from the classroom.

Best of luck to Brantley, but he's going to have to absolutely clear house and contract out many duties if he wants any really changes. We teachers need MIS to improve greatly for our students and our own performance.

P.S. Tech support and eSIS are still horrible.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that we NEED our text books on tablets. Instead, we need to focus on how technology is used in the classroom. Using computers for math games is a waste of tax payer money and classroom time. Even the smart boards that are in the classrooms are more being used for an expensive projector than taking advantage of the smart board technology. I am not blaming teachers, as larger class sizes limit what they can spend their time on, as they are using more time to grade papers, contact parents, and the like.

Having been on tours to the top private schools in our area, they don't have text books on tablets for their students. Many don't even begin students using computers until they are in 3rd and 4th grade and they are teaching children how to use programs and expecting them to use the programs in their projects and class work. There are schools where computers are not even a thought, as they want to teach the children how to think, question, and explore.

I do not believe that technology is the key to everything in education. I believe that having smaller classes in our elementary schools especially, but throughout the district, holding students and teachers to a higher standard, hold students back if they haven't met the higher standard (stop passing students on), and stop focusing on teaching to the test. Those four elements would make DCSS a better school system, and they only require money being spent on hiring more teachers to limit classroom size.

Atkinson has until the contracts go out-and it could be anytime after January-to cut people lose and have job salaries right sized. If this is not done, than the public will no longer support her. I can almost understand why she did not let people go, but if she wanted people to believe her, she would have. We're wasting money either way, either by paying for a person who has screwed up the district and that we no longer need, or by paying their salary because we let them go and don't need them.

Time will tell and I am not holding my breath that things will really change. I have seen little evidence so far.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon @ 11:08am & 12:39pm

I believe the garbage on TV has a lot to do with our children not learning and limiting creativity. Technology to some degree itself is responsible too. There must be some balance. There has been a paradigm shift with the use of computers and communications technologies. That is, from computation to a communications medium. The kids, 20 and 30 somethings are on the social media/networking bandwagon, so we MUST harness the power of these technologies in the classroom and "virtual classrooms." The problem I see is many principals and teachers do not understand or are not adequately trained to integrate technology in their classrooms. Leadership must find practical ways thru professional development (hands-on) to transfer the knowledge to faculty & staff and mandate its use in our classrooms. On the other hand, can MIS do an adequate job and do it timely??? If they can't, this MUST be outsourced to a competent high-tech firm that can guarantee the deliverables (i.e., the implementation of technologies and training). This is not difficult, but the project has to be highly visible with adequate oversight. The biggest issue is commitment and accountability. Once the infrastructure and training is in place, teachers must build the content that ensures our children succeed.

Anonymous said...

We will add this to a long list of items for accountability.
The current BOE will be held accountable for Dr. Atkinson's actions.
Next year is an election year for a few of the BOE.
The first item to watch is how the DeKalb Delegation redraws the board districts in January.
Stay tuned!!!!
This will be the first sign of NEEDED CHANGE or STATUS QUO!

We are watching you Howard MOSBY!
Give Jay Cunningham's sister a kiss for all of us.

Paula Caldarella said...

Hiring people she formerly worked with is hardly hiring "friends". Come on, now. While, I was one of those not enamored with the choice of Dr. Atkinson, she has the right to bring in her own people. Whether these were the right hires remains to be seen. To judge these individuals now is just not right.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom,

I am referring to the (yet to be seen) FIRES, not the hires.


We will see.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:27 The problem is that very few in education know how to effectively use the computer. Are we going to teach the kids Word, and other Microsoft products? Are we going to teach them programming-which really requires good problem solving and thinking skills? Are we going to teach them how to develop aps?

The way I see it, as a nearly 40 year old person. I learned on Macs in my school. What I learned in high school has been useless to me. My father 65 had no computers and taught himself how to program and has nothing but a high school diploma.

The way I look at it, if we teach our children how to think, and problem solve, than we'd be giving our children skills to take them into adulthood and that employers will want and need.

As I was told at the Friends School, they don't rely on computers too much, because they haven't seen them be used in an effective way that makes the cost worth the expense. As a former teacher, and homeschool parent, I have to agree. Teaching kids to use word, publisher, spread sheets and other Microsoft products is great, but from what I have seen in most classrooms in DCSS and throughout the nation, that computers are not utilized well in schools. Parents want them, because they think the computer is going to give their child a leg up. I don't see it. I'd rather my child and the children of our county work on problem solving, thinking and real writing skills, as these are what our children are going to need in their future. Technology comes and goes and changes faster than anyone can really keep up with or afford to keep up.

Dekalbparent said...

I think technology can be used to facilitate learning in a way that develops thinking skills (not just sit down and play some math games), but only if the teacher is knowledgeable enough to put together assignments that do this.

For instance, if you teach kids Word and email, then you can do peer-edited creative writing.You can use the drawing capabilities to do time lines for Social Studies.

If you teach kids Excel, then you use that in a math exercise that involves constructing a table and generating graphs of different sorts (you have to put the data into the table in a different format to generate different sorts of graphs). I always thought that drawing graphs is a great way to get the understanding, but it takes so long for the kid to draw it that you can lose the learning. You can have them graph little experiments they do for science.

There are packages on the DCSS server that allow kids to create their own learning games, and then challenge others to play them.

Use email to correspond with a class in another state or country - there are lots of sites where teachers are asking for partners.

However, I agree with others that technology is not something you have to overuse. As an IT professional for many years, I found the school work that required me to explain and justify my position (essays) and those that taught logical and critical thinking gave me the skills I draw on for my technical work.

Anonymous said...

I have moved past my concerns with how Dr. Atkinson was selected and don't object to her hiring a staff she trusts and one in which she has confidence. However, I strongly object to keeping those on board that presently are paid high wages and will be doing little if anything to earn their wages. I don't know of many businesses that keep deadwood in place when replacements are added. They need to be made a severance offer they cannot refuse!

As I've said many times, the Dekalb County School Board and the School Administration have lost the confidence and trust of the people. Hiring new people in positions that pay high salaries while keeping the people they replaced on board is a test for Dr. Atkinson and an opportunity for her to show the people of the County that she is serious about the making the Administration efficient and worthy for the people to trust again.

Anonymous said...

Certified staff members have contracts. None of us want to go back to living under a climate of fear. Positions will change. That does not mean that an individual cannot be effective in another position. This could mean a change of pay, but the ability of individuals and the needs of the students should be considered.
There must be a just cause to end a contract before the term of the contract. Think back about the payments that the system made to Dr. Brown, to terminate his contract before time.
The DeKalb School System is also in a multi-million dollar law suit with a construction company over not paying the amount agreed upon in a contract.
In fairness to Dr Atkinson, she is still in the process of learning the school system and developing plans to address our many needs.
Our schools need help. Staff members in the school need to feel supported. No pre-planning day, increased insurance cost, lower salary, more demands to take care of our students.
I pray that whatever plan is devised it will offer support to the schools or over time, we will lose our best people. No group is totally right. There are in-effective people in every job. But, there are also good hard working people in every level of the DeKalb County School System.
I work in a school. I am not related to anyone in the school system.
I appreciate this blog and this venue for us to engage in conversation.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

"Georgia recognizes the doctrine of employment at will. Employment at will means that in the absence of a written contract of employment for a defined duration, an employer can terminate an employee for good cause, bad cause or no cause at all, so long as it is not an illegal cause." [Georgia Secretary of State; Employment at Will;]

When I worked for DeKalb County School System in a non-teaching position, I did not have a contract. However, I did not hold current certification to teach in Georgia.

Perhaps, though, all DCSS employees (including "sit-up-here" administrators) who have current teaching certification do sign contracts, regardless of their jobs. If that is the case -- and given the number of teaching vacancies in DeKalb -- then these people who have a contract because they are certified to teach, but who are not performing in their present jobs should be immediately returned to the classroom to work out the remainder of their contract. Or they can resign. NO severance.

Beasley comes to mind as a "sit-up-here" administrator who is not certified to teach in Georgia.

How about it, Atkinson? Do you have the guts to do what is right for DeKalb's students?

Or are you just more of the same? Bringing in your buddies to "learn from the best" how to defraud taxpayers and students with impunity?

Anonymous said...

Sure, you can fire someone "at will". That does not mean they still won't sue and tie the system up for years with a lawsuit.

Geez, just be patient and see what happens AFTER the audits are complete and the contracts go out in Aptil.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

We have been patient!

Meanwhile, the thugs and thieves and overpaid incompetents who inhabit DCSS are taking full advantage of the johnny-come-latelies and pollyannas who continue to preach "patience" in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

What will be the excuse for waiting in 2012?

If Atkinson has not figured out DCSS by now, then she is not going to.

No Duh said...

I have been seeing the references to "sit up here." What did I miss?

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

Just google "sit up here, audria berry"

Anonymous said...

DeKalb contracts for certified personnel (Mosley and Beasley and Berry singed contracts as certified personnel) specifically state that the salary and assignment listed in the contract are NOT guaranteed. Certified personnel are merely guaranteed a JOB in a certified position, but the county has listed in the contract that they cannot guarantee the position or salary that the certified employee currently has.

Dr. Atkinson can move a Director to an Assistant Principal (AP) or teaching position of she wants. Witness Ralph Simpson who was involved in the Title 1 funds to buy his book fiasco. He was moved from an Assistant Superintendent position to an AP. Ms. Tyson did not have to use “cause” to do this. She was able to simply move him because he signed a contract to work for the school system in a CERTIFIED position. DCSS was not bound by contract to continue his employment as an Assistant Superintendent.

Johnny Brown moved many personnel from the Central Office to AP and schoolhouse positions. He could do this because the contracts DO NOT bind the school system to keep employees in the same positions they were in when they signed their contracts.

Read the DeKalb employment contracts to see this very clear clause. Are you a certified employee? If not, ask a certified employee to show you his/her contract.

I have no problem with Dr. Atkinson hiring her own people. My problem is that she would leave redundant personnel intact and leave personnel in high level positions when their poor decisions have failed to move students forward academically. Taxpayers and students simply cannot afford this.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

Thanks, Anonymous 2:58 PM.

You confirmed what I thought.

Anonymous said...

Re: Anon @ 8:07pm 11/25

I understand. At times I mull over how the ancients (e.g. Myans) understood astronomy w/o the use of modern technology--not to mention the Egyptians. I think about ancient Mesopotamia (now modern day Iraq) and the evidence of its high-tech past. The point is, there's nothing new under the sun. When I hear politicians and gov't officials speak on keeping nuclear capabilities out of reach of foes under the auspecies of WORLD PEACE, I can't help but think about CONTROL. I believe technology has always been "managed." When I see nomads and billions of ppl around the globe that have NEVER even made a phone call (not to mention the use of a computer), I think exactly what you're thinking. That is, we NEED to return to the BASICS of 'how to think' and problem-solving. The system we're operating under teaches ppl 'what to think.' Do we see this? Cell phones, 24 hr CABLE-TV, and other electronic devices. Let's teach our children and students to leave the TV alone. I not only hear the kids talkin' about BASKETBALL WIVES and some HIP-HOP reality tv show, but teachers are into that crap. We gonna be and stay at the bottom of the totem pole if this continues. It boils down to RESPONSIBILITY and holding ppl ACCOUNTABLE. Period. ELA teachers, have your students read about a Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg, or Bill Gates. Find out how much tv they watched. I'm not saying all tv programming is bad, but I'd rather see teachers collaborate and build well-scripted educational TV programs in all content areas. We better 'DO' something, or the majority of us are going to be left behind the current and next technological revolutions w/o work.

Anonymous said...

If you're part of the "wait and see" crowd, I've got news for you. That time has come and gone. This is only final proof things will not change. If you think there needs to be something more as proof, think about that secretarial job. If that still isn't enough for you, I will need your bank account and routing number.

Cerebration said...

FWIW, this was part of the interviewing process. Most members of the board really wanted to hire a leader who could bring along a highly regarded ‘team’. That was a concern with Atkinson, as due to her experience in smaller systems, she didn’t seem to have access to an “A” team like perhaps some others. Frankly, I wish she would have brought in more people – doesn’t she know a transportation executive? How about a television production executive? How about a highly qualified HR executive? Someone with success in Title 1 programs? And maybe even a construction executive with integrity?

Bring them on…. But in March, she’d better get rid of the old baggage – we can’t afford to keep them as well as new staff. I’m much more concerned with the overpaid, under-qualified staff we currently employ at really big bucks as they watch student success plummet. Do not demote them, dismiss them. They will sabotage from any new perch they are given. Atkinson will get kudos from the people who are really watching when she cuts the unnecessary baggage.

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

Waiting until March 2012 to get rid of the overpaid friends-and-family CLew Crew by not renewing their contracts is too little, too late.

Atkinson has the option to do that NOW.

Demote these losers -- these thieves and thugs -- and reduce their salaries, too. Their contracts, if they have one, guarantee only a job. No guarantee of a specific job. No guarantee of a specific location. No guarantee of a specific salary. Demote these losers NOW.

In March 2012, do not give any of them a new contract. They are dismissed!

This could have been done at any time. The fact that Tyson did not have the moral courage to get rid of these thieves -- and now, apparently, Atkinson, under Tyson's tutelage, does not have the moral courage to do what is right -- means that these sorry people will go on to collect millions of $$$ in retirement. Worse, they will continue to steal from DeKalb taxpayers and students.

Every one of these sorry people could be tossed out of the Palace and never be missed. I mean, could things be any worse?

For Atkinson to have any credibility, next week (week of 11/28) MUST bring massive demotions and restructuring.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in DCSS, this is quite disheartening to read. More money needs to go to the people who are in the trenches--- the teachers. It seems that the people who are actually interacting with the students, the ones who make a true impact on their learning are once again disregarded. Increased class size means less resources available for students. This also means more papers for each teacher to grade and less time to plan fun and exciting lessons. This, on top of county and state-mandated tasks for teachers to complete only adds to the over-burdened workload they already have. All this results in low teacher morale and the losing of good, caring teachers. Even in this economy, no one wants to work in a place where they are not happy or appreciated. DCSS is always trying to keep up with the Joneses. So much money has been wasted on programs that were adopted, but improperly implemented, then forgotten. Dr. Atchinson needs to put on her "big girl panties" and do what needs to be done. Get rid of the detritus that is bogging down this county and preventing our students from achieving. It's time to get real about the needs of the many and stop appeasing the wants of a few. I got into teaching as a second career because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I chose the wrong county.

Paula Caldarella said...

For Atkinson to have any credibility, next week (week of 11/28) MUST bring massive demotions and restructuring.

Totally disagree. Her ultimate credibility will be built on the performance of the schools.

Mass firings before contracts have expired will bring even MORE lawsuits. Despite Georgia law, lawsuits are fired daily - just ask the EEOC. Do you really want the school system to spend even more money on lawsuits? I don't. Let the current contracts run out and see what moves Dr. Atkinson makes.

Anonymous said...

Don't see why we can't let the people go and finish paying their salaries for their contract. These people are like cancer and need to go. Having them hang around until June makes no sense, if the district is going to improve and get better. Doing more of the same isn't what we need and the only way that Atkinson can do her job and we can really assess her and her new team, is for them to be in control without having to worry about the meddling of those having these positions prior to them joining the county.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that many believe that the majority of the Board of Education members dragged their feed as they hired a superintendent to make sure that contracts were complete before the hiring, giving everyone an extra year.

It will be interesting to see how our BoE proceeds with any inkling that she may fire people. (I do think that the contracts have to be served out -- GA law really does protect educators, regardless of how some are interpreting it here.)

Keep in mind that nothing bad has probably been written in any of these folks' files, so there will be documentation to show that they were fired with cause. Best just not to renew their contracts in the spring.

Cerebration said...

I think 'some' of these people have been placed in other positions (hopefully temporarily). I know I am part of a very large group of 'watchers' who are very interested in Dr. Atkinson's next move. No, Ramona Tyson did not clear a pathway which would have been a big step forward for Atkinson, however, we have been told by many sources that the edict to not fire anyone came down from Tom Bowen and the board. The board has final say so on hirings and firings. If they tell you don't bother beforehand, who in their right mind would even try?

Ramona did a very good job while she held the reins. I commend her for revamping the website and ridding us of that hideous "premier" moniker. She also managed to consolidate and redistrict several schools - something Dr. Lewis never accomplished - even though he was thoroughly loved by the board (as endorsed by his enormous raise right before he was indicted for racketeering). Sadly though, Ramona Tyson is not an educational leader, and our students suffered serious blows to learning during her tenure. At least Atlanta has put tutors and recovery programs in place to try to make amends for the losses in learning under Beverly Hall.

The problem lies in the board. They protect their friends and family at all costs. Watch the board. See if they try to steer, influence or control Dr. Atkinson. If so, then our school system is doomed. If she is able to make public requests for action and publicly turned down, then it is up to us -- the school 'watchers' to have her back and insist on their support of her actions. (However, if she takes no such actions, then we have a whole 'nother agenda.

Paula Caldarella said...

Cere is right. The first big test for this Board of Education is Dr. Atkinson's new policy with regards to Board members and their "visitation" of their schools.

I look forward to that board meeting where this policy is discussed.

Marney Mayo said...

Amen Celebration to your last post.

Atkinson is laying the building blocks that will make it HARDER, but not impossible for her to not renew contracts.

First--contract for a completely new organizational chart based upon national norms. Then "competence" isn't being argued when these folks aren't renewed or are put back in the schools--there simply isn't a position that matches the resume..

Second--get her likely to be a problem board members philosophical on board with the idea of "classroom first" and organization should follow that priority. Her board mtg on theory of chang did that.

Third--I would point out that she originally negotiated a contract that made her very hard to fire for 3 years, but that had no "I want the 4th year promised 3 years out so I can comfortably retire here as long as I always maintain a majority of board approval." i.e. maybe she really isn't planning on having them all love her.

4th--did you see the board policy on interaction with staff and interference in the schools? This is from policy subcommittee--so she--once it is approved in January, will actually have the means to tell employees that they should not be working individual board members for their jobs--and board members that they cannot intervene on behalf of individuals. They must wait for an actual appeal hearing of the full board. This is appropriate because the board is the jury pool for a grievance--and for an employee to try to argue the facts of the case in advance would then taint the board members contacted. Contacted board members would then need to recuse themselves from any subsequent tribunal. Although I don't see it working this way in practice, we do have the other board members and SACS able to call bad behavior to task, if there is an actual board policy that would allow it.

So, in my judgement Atkinson's real test will be when the org chart is announced in January and through the budgeting and contract renewal process after that.

BTW--one thing that everyone who demands the firing of the top folks don't fully appreciate is how bad many of their underlings are--including the number of extremely sorry principals we have.

I know someone who worked in Tucker High School when Moseley was principal there, and she says that he was the best principal she ever worked under, and would happily go back to work for him in that capacity again. I would not consider it at all a bad thing if he and a number of the area superintendents were used to bump out some of the principals that need to be gotten rid of. School house leadership is important--and should not be automatically viewed as a demotion if that is indeed something that the person has demonstrated ability at.

Anonymous said...

less than 10 years ago the elementary school up the street of me had a major addition, including a separate building gym. the gym has had a "gym closed" sign on the door for several weeks. i'm thinking roof leak or worse. anyone have insight on who got the contract to do this shoddy work?

Anonymous said...

We'll see if Dr. Atkinson gives a contract to Lewis's mistress, an employee who accompanied him on the trip to Reynolds Plantation Ritz Carlton where no school business was conducted. Since this was in the middle of the work week (Wednesday and Thursday), she was being paid to work, but had cut out of her job, cheating taxpayers in the process. Falsifying attendance and absence records is a Georgia Professional Standards Commission ethics offense. How can the PSC be disciplining other Georgia certified personnel for unauthorized absences yet not bring her up on ethics charges.

When Lewis's trial comes up this year, her name will be a matter of public record, and taxpayers will see who "cut" work to conduct no school business while still collecting her pay.

Leaving the county during the school hours has for many years required a Leave form that states exactly what your professional work related business is. This Leave form must be approved and signed by your supervisor. Her trip to Reynolds Plantation was falsification of records no matter how outlook at it. Where is the Office of Interal Affairs in all this? Did this department know Leave records were falsified but did nothing about it?

How are teachers, students, and parents to respect an administration that continues to employ personnel like this who cheat the taxpayers? Falsifying records, collecting pay for no work. What if all DeKalb Schools employees just came to work when they wanted but collected their pay just the same?

Anonymous said...

Same is true for Jamie Wilson. Heard he was an excellent principal. Not sure where he got the qualifications to be the head of HR at almost twice the paycheck though. And Steve Donahue. Another former principal who was given a job that requires professional training.

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

As a school-level administrator, I look forward to new and fresh ideas and the changes that Dr. Atkinson and her people are going to make. Its time out for the old regime and the belief that you can work your way up in DeKalb from teacher to Human Resources director and other jobs that would require advanced degrees and CERTIFICATION in the private sector. To see what outside people can bring to DeKalb, just visit Princeton Elementary. The morale over there has flipped upside down since the DeKalb -groomed principal left, and the new principal took over. The only way for that to happen is to bring in people from the outside. Dr. Atkinson has a plan, and she's bringing in people whom she knows will carry it out. I'm tired of board members running our schools. Even when I point out things wrong in my school to my Associate Superintendent, nothing happens because its business as usual in Dekalb....increase your pay before you retire and turn a blind eye to the wrongs that are occurring. The people have contracts so they're going to get paid this year anyway, but why should that prevent her from hiring those whom share her vision?

Cerebration said...

Whoops. Had to edit a comment there. We simply can't make accusations here. However, on that second thing, please send some way to prove it to us at

Anonymous said...

Reining in these grossly overpaid secretaries could have been done immediately. Instead, a hire was tried for Brantley and it was nixed after Get Schooled in the AJC got wind of it.

Howe already has a grossly overpaid secretary.

Secretaries are not contracted, as far as I know, and Atkinson could have reduced their pay to a reasonable level or allowed them to leave, replacing them with someone at, say, $30K or so (still very generous for someone with a GED or high school diploma in the office of a PUBLIC school system.)

Atkinson got Howe the expensive secretary at $73K and nixed the hire for Brantley. (Or was that job given to whomever they had in mind at the high end of the range? Did they just withdraw the ad after public outcry and then fill the position?)

Because both of these took place on Atkinson's watch and for Atkinson's new team members, I don't see where she has much ethical intuition regarding the fat salaries thrown to secretaries and other support personnel when teachers are taking heavy cuts.

And why couldn't she have unilaterally reinstated our annuity contribution in lieu of Social Security? She could have remedied this her first week. She could have had Marcus Turk cook up the funds for that once she realized that teachers have been robbed of future income. Surely she's realized by now the disadvantage at which her new "District" has place teachers? Yes? Doesn't she know how that may effect hiring (and keeping) the best teachers?

I remain a skeptic and don't believe things will get better. I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but it's a slim hope.

Anonymous said...

Jackie Simmons, Howe's Executive Assistant is not a new hire.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 4:05. We don't need Mosely, Beasley or the rest, we need new blood. We need fresh ideas. People without no connections to DCSS. Keeping the same old, same old, will have the district continue with the same results and we really better results for our children and their future.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:56 pm

Let's look at this example in more detail:

2003 - 2004 (BEFORE Crawford Lewis):
Simmons, Jacquelyn A

2006 - 2007 (AFTER Crawford Lewis):
Simmons, Jacquelyn A

Does everyone see how Lewis raised the pay of support positions? Is it logical that this secretarial position saw a pay increase of 59% in 3 years time?

Consider that the 2004 Ernst and Young Compensation audit said that DCSS non-teaching positions were overpaid to the tune of $15,000,000 a year - BEFORE Lewis got into power. So if this position was typical in 2003 - 2004 BEFORE Lewis, can we imagine how much more Lewis increased the overpayments after he came into power? No wonder Johnny Brown wanted a salary audit. No wonder the admin and support side was so upset.

To those who say that the Ernst and Young Compensation audit is old news and we need to move on, look how these salary overpayments are the "Gift that keeps on giving" - for admin and support positions.

2004 Georgia Salary and Travel audit
and 2007 Georgia Salary and Travel audit

Anonymous said...

Wonder if she tithes to New Birth.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that we're also paying for an additional year of Tyson's salary to assist with Atkinson's transition.

The DCSS budget is nearly $1 billion dollars. Abysmal school performance, school closures, & neglected facilities are certainly expensive.

At least the SPLOST dollars will allow the county to buy some lipstick for the pig.

Anonymous said...

2003 - 2004 (BEFORE Crawford Lewis):
Simmons, Jacquelyn A

2006 - 2007 (AFTER Crawford Lewis):
Simmons, Jacquelyn A

I'm a teacher, and we get treated like dirt by the Central Office flacks (huge class sizes, no tech support, leaking ceilings, off and on heat, no raises, increased out of pocket costs for benefits, having to deal worthless Office of School Improvement staff who never leave their office, no backup from principals and AP's with parents, can't give a zero for a grade even when the student refuses to turn work in, etc.). Simmons, or any other secretary, in no way deserved such a raise while teacher salaries stay flat. This is infuriating. But it's the DeKalb Way.

Anonymous said...

"huge class sizes, no tech support, leaking ceilings, off and on heat, no raises, increased out of pocket costs for benefits, having to deal worthless Office of School Improvement staff who never leave their office, no backup from principals and AP's with parents, can't give a zero for a grade even when the student refuses to turn work in, etc."

Of greater concerns that this is the environment students have been left in. No wonder DCSS student achievement is so low - particularly in our Title 1 schools.

Anonymous said...

Until DCSS makes some pretty dramatic cuts in the admin and support side and right sizes their pay, the classroom will be starved of resources.

Two years ago Womack would not even hear of cuts to the K-9 unit for the bloated Security force while he approved the elimination of 600 teaching positions. apparently, dogs were more important than members of the classroom.

DeKalb has lost its instructional focus.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 11:05 pm

Tens of millions a year are spent for Technology yet the classroom still gets little access to technology and even worse customer service. Why is this allowed to happen? Does no one ask why these tech dollars are used so poorly. Why doesn't the technology work for teachers and students? Who makes these decisions? When is MIS going to be held responsible for the tens of millions a year spent on technology? How are their jobs tied to student performance?

Anonymous said...

When will the resumes of the 4 new hires be released. Their experiences and records would speak volumes of Dr. Atkinson's plans for improved student achievement.What degrees do they have and where did they earn them from? There are some great folk at the central office but their hands have been tied. Let's be careful not to throw the babe out with the bath water. I am excited about the evaluations from top to bottom because some folk need to go at every level. The culture must change. Can Dr. Arkinson do it... I certainly hope so.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:12 If the people in the central office that you are talking about are so great they need to begin to speak out against the corruption and lack of education our children are receiving. As a former teacher, I am tired of people being quiet that work in the district. I realize that there are repercussions for speaking out, but at this time, it's important that those that are "good," and want a better system for the kids speak out. As a community we can't afford for the same old, same old to continue any longer. As a teacher I was tired of everyone complaining outside the meetings we had, but keeping quiet during them. This complacency among DCSS employees has got to stop. Also, community members need to begin expecting more from those that you think are "good."

Sandy Spruill said...

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do [and say] nothing."

Paraphrased quote from Edmund Burke, English philosopher and supporter of the American Revolution.

Note the high number of "Anonymous" comments on this blog. Virtually all comments on this blog are from "Anonymous" or a psuedonym. Need I say more?

I challenge those of you who truly care about forming a community of concerned citizens who can and will make a difference to step up and use your real name.

The cloak of anonymity is allowing evil to prevail in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

This blog eliminates the need to get out your white sheets and hoods. Must save you alot on your cleaning bills.
If you want to name the people you want fired, hanged, or crucified and not have any consequences for your actions. This is the place.

Having said that Dr. Atkinson needs and deserves a leadership team that she wants. The salary survey and reorganization study is under way. The real goal is to get more resource to the school house and help our students. Let that take its course.

Cerebration said...

A - there is no need for a white sheet. If we demand the replacement of certain highly ineffective managers, then it is because they are ineffective, not because we don't like their race. Quit playing the race card. Usually I delete comments like this, however, I think this one shows the extreme level of fear and such an inability to defend those we want dismissed so as to only have the race card left in 'defense'. Pitiful.

B - We agree! We too cannot wait for the new audit - and we will certainly follow it closely this time and not allow the results to be buried, ignored or otherwise 'lost'.

C - We agree again! We too think that Dr. Atkinson needs and deserves her own trustworthy and highly-qualified team. However, we DISAGREE that those currently in their jobs deserve to stay.

D- We agree a third time! We fight very hard to shed light on the waste, fraud and abuse of our school tax dollars and try our very best to ensure those dollars to first to the classroom. This is an astoundingly difficult position to take ironically. The powers in control of the money just don't want to let it go to the children for whom it is collected!

Anonymous said...

How dramatic you are, Anon 10:38.

The mess that is DCSS has been this way for years, and parents and teachers are disgusted. There was a salary survey that costs hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, with no followup, no major changes. There have been multiple re-org's with nothing to show for them. It is more than fair for concerned citizens to call for revamped Central Office leadership, albeit a very small, very lean new Central Office.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

10:38 must be a Central Office insider. They're feeling really rattled over there right now and must result in name calling since they have nothing else to stand on.

I'm with Cere, Dr. Atkinson must have her own team, Johnny Brown trusted the inside folks and Clew's crew knew what to do to find him gone before his contract expired.

I can't figure out why the folks who were in charge while our children's grades took a dive, can not be held accountable for their failures. Seems pretty simple to me.

Lot's to come as 2012 begins.

Passionate... said...

I'm all for Dr. Atkinson having her own team. However, she can move current certified staff members with contracts for this year from the central office to the schoolhouse without any problem. When no contracts come out, salaries will then match positions they are in for the next school year, or they can retire/quit if desired. Classified staff that do not have contracts could be let go now. Instead of WBBC/MIS being renovated finally, what about gyms that are closed or parking lots at schools that you cannot walk on to get to the front door, or rooms that are so hot you have to open windows even though thermostats have been shut off, or other rooms so cold you have to run electric heaters which is against the fire code. What about class sizes? Furlough days? Pay? Benefits? AND TRS/TSA or Social Security? I'm giving Dr. Atkinson a little more time to get it straight. It didn't become a mess over night. Control over BOE + cutting CO staff = increases for school house = higher student achievement.

Anonymous said...

As I just posted on the most recent article:
"Walker has 5 relatives working for DeKalb Schools, all of them in non-teaching positions. This represents millions in income for his family over time. Why would he want anything to change in DeKalb?"

These BOE members have millions in future income for their family members who are non-teaching - therefore - Classified - employees.

That is a huge problem when it comes to letting Classified employees go. When letting non-teaching Classified employees go, they do not want to get into the issues of their own family members - something that is sure to be brought up.

RichieRich said...

Today DeKalb County Schools (DCSS) FIRED Dr. Audria M. Berry and her assistant, Ms. Alain Davis. Dr. Berry was at the center of the scandal involving former Superintendant Crawford Lewis and his trip to the Bahama's (March 2008) in which he is accused of Charging this vacation and stay at the Ritz-Carlton on his DCSS school credit card. Dr. Berry accompanied Crawford Lewis on the trip to the Bahama's. She is known as "The Bahama Momma" .

RichieRich said...

Both the ladies were escorted out by the campus supervisor, Mr. Walker. Though I do not wish anyone any ill will.....but surely the GOOD DOCTOR BERRY had to know that she would Reap what she Sewed by laying under Lewis to get up ahead of others. The Good DOCTOR Berry disregarded a directive from Dr. Atkinson and a BOE Policy regarding her needing to get prior approval before spending more than $50,000.00 at any time. Suppose she was accustomed to "DOING IT" and then getting the permission "UNDER" Lewis and Tyson. Well...Atkinson has fired her for it. My, my, my.

RichieRich said...

The DCSS Campus Police Officers are being shafted! They are now being told that they have to work the original four (4) furlough days scheduled for December and will not get paid for them. They are being told that they are a police department and should be glad to have a job. Easy to see where our poor children get all the BULLYING from, huh?? They were told by their Director that they can take off the days at another time such as Spring Break or after the students are no longer in school at the end of May 2012. Well....that won't work either because the 12-month employee’s are already furloughed for the Monday - Wednesday of Spring Break 2012 and then the District is closed Thursday and Friday.

The Director of Campus Police supposedly told them they should be glad to have a job and that the District has checked with the lawyers and that they can do this to them. Whew!!! What next. These folk are upset and need some help.

One of my sources, a School Resource Officer (SRO) is a GAE member and has informed me that the Director told them that they won't be keeping ANY of this “WORKED TIME” on the books; it will be "BETWEEN THEM." He said that he does agree that as a Police Department, they should keep the District manned during the Winter Break and the Spring Break.

However, …he feels that as they are furloughed on these days, they are now "paying the District to work" and don't fully trust that the District will ensure that they can take these seven (7) furlough days (four at Winter Holidays and three at Spring Break) at a later date when students are not in school as promised. He and others are also concerned that if something happens to them during this "off the books" work, will the District take care of them through Workers Compensation or will they be protected for any other unforeseeable things that may happen? They have been reading the Labor Laws and do not agree with the District's interpretation of what they are being asked to do. They do not believe that Dr. Atkinson (new DCSS Super-IN-tendent) is aware of what's being done to them...or at least they are truly hoping that she would not be in agreement with their being treated like this.
Now, THIS is what is happening to some good people in a CORRUPT school district in the HOT A.T.L.!!

Anonymous said...


As far as I am concerned, DCSS should eliminate the so called DCSS Police Department. The DCSS Police Department is a "gentlemen's club" unable to handle their designated duties. When it comes to the tough stuff, they call on DCPD, so why have a DCSS Police Department in the first place? Plus, call them afterhours or on the weekend and where are they? DCPD is 24/7.

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

I heard the chosen few DCSD security officers who are REQUIRED to be at the BOE meetings ALL get paid OVERTIME for their attendance.

I undersrtand they are there for security reasons but why OT PAY?

The department can't manage to have employees there who have NOT filled their full week's hours?

Just food for thought?

Anonymous said...

"The department can't manage to have employees there who have NOT filled their full week's hours?"

Yes. Comp time is allowed in DeKalb Schools. If they are at the meeting and then take comp time, there is no charge to the county. If they work Overtime, then taxpayers pay time and a half.

Anonymous said...

"I heard the chosen few DCSD security officers who are REQUIRED to be at the BOE meetings ALL get paid OVERTIME for their attendance."


Police officers work nights and weekends as scheduled. Unless it's an emergency, absolutely no DCSS Officer should be paid overtime.

This department, with its two chiefs and nine detectives who can't solve any crime, needs a COMPLETE REVAMP!!!

They also need to pass annual fitness tests, and actually patrol all of DCSS' non-school properties, like Heritage. This department is an underperforming, no return on investment joke!

Anonymous said...

Federal law does not allow comp time for hourly wage earners who work over 40 hours a week. Let's not get into another lawsuit, especially one that we would rightfully lose.

I was surprise to learn from this Blog that Audria was a seamtress

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 1:02 pm

"Federal law does not allow comp time for hourly wage earners who work over 40 hours a week."

True. But I can be asked to work on a Saturday and then take Monday off. Or asked to come into work at 10 instead of 8 and then be asked to work 2 hours after I normally get off. As long as I am working my 40 hour work week, that is fine. Schedules can be flexible and should be in order to avoid time and a half.

Anonymous said...

Police officers here in DeKalb, Georgia, and the rest of the country work night, weekends and holidays as part of their assigned schedule. It's a basic tenet of the job that you are aware of as you enter the academy.

But the management of the DCSS School Police Dept. has allowed its officers to become incredibly complacent. Getting paid overtime when provising security for a BOE meeting or night meeting? Outrageous.

I'm all for School Resource Officers at high schools and middle schools. The good ones earn every dollar. But the department needs very thorough forenisc and personnel audits. 2 Chiefs? 4 admin assistants? 9 detectives? Computers walk away constantly. You never see a school police officer randomly checking schools at night or a weekend.

Which Asst. Superintendent oversees this department anyway?
He or she has failed with their oversight.

Atkison has her work cut out for her, and this is one of the departments she could quickly audit and re-org.

Anonymous said...

Berry and Davis are both still on the first class directory with email addresses. Has anyone received a memo about who is in charge of the Office of School Improvement if Berry has been fired?

Anonymous said...

The SRO dept. claims they don't have enough SROs to cover a middle school or high school if an SRO is out for any reason - so much for safety first! Not sure how that can be when there are over 50 SROs and we don't have 50 middle and high schools. Apparently the SROs that work the BOE meetings are paid overtime and they get to take turns working those meetings. Poor management. Hiring a couple of part time SROs to cover medical leaves, family leaves, K-9 duties (that take SROs out of our shcools) and BOE meetings would be safer and more economical than overtime!

Anonymous said...

@ 6:52pm
"Berry and Davis are both still on the first class directory with email addresses"

You are correct that the payroll data drives the first class directory and is updated overnight. So if they are on first class they are on payroll. Perhaps they are on payroll this month since this happened so recently. Hopefully, this is not a case of removing a non-performer and installing her in a lesser position with the same pay.

Anonymous said...

Today is December 1st. The alleged firing happened Monday, November 28. Anyone know when payroll closes out?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous @ 10:57 pm
That's a good question.

According to the AJC, Annette Roberts was fired for the book purchase scandal, but according to DeKalb’s directory, she is still in DCSS as of today. Did they quietly hire her back this year?

These people just get moved somewhere until the heat is off and then they quietly surface again.

Ms. Roberts is in the first class directory so without a doubt she is on the DCSS payroll. Look it up:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon's statement "Another former principal who was given a job that requires professional training"

Many school administrators are promoted to the county office to do a job that requires professional training. Getting a Ed.D in leadership from a pay-for-your-degree school does not qualify a person to head HR, communications or any of the other business-related departments. That's like promoting a phlebotomist to medical director just because he was a good at drawing blood! Perhaps this is why our school system is in such bad shape. It's being run by non-qualified personnel.