MY, MY, things are moving rapidly over at the ol’ school board. Walker is resigning from the chair. That is a good move. Now who will take over. There are only two people with any credibility on the board, Pam and Nancy. Of course that is like having the proverbial snow ball pass through hell. I do not believe it will happen. That leaves probably Melvin. I do not think any new BOE member should be chair or vice chair, but so many of the rest are unable. Of course what will change if Mr. Johnson becomes chair? He and Dr. Walker go way back.

What about the hiring of Thurbert Baker from McKenna, Long, and Aldridge? Let’s look at the connection here. Mr. Baker a former legislator; Mr. Thurmond former legislator and state labor commissioner. He worked closely with Dr. Walker, a former state legislator. The “DeKalb Friends Network” is intact and they are all on the payroll.

We are going to pay Baker $150,000 for governance training. This is incredible. As far back as two years ago I kept pointing out to my colleagues we could get this training from Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan, who were the BOE’s attorneys, at no additional cost. That was not considered. Ask them why? We also could have had the GSBA do it at a much lower fee, or for nothing, depending on our arrangement with the GSBA. Why does the board need a high-priced legal firm with contacts to the “DeKalb Friends Network” for “governance” help when there are other closer and cheaper options?

It reminds me of when we were interviewing our legal firms about three years ago. Brock and Clay did a very capable presentation by a delightful Indian attorney. One of our board members asked if there was any “diversity” in her firm? When Sutherland made their presentation the same board member asked if there was anyone in their firm that had experience with African-Americans? The presenter was African-American. Some on our BOE clearly do not understand diversity.

I hope you are getting the picture.

It is good to see that three members of the BOE voted against hiring Mr. Baker. Thank you Pam, Donna, and Nancy for seeing the issue clearly.

Even Senator Millar has stated it is a waste of taxpayer money. Thank you for stating the obvious. Too bad Senator Millar did not step in sooner to try to help the voiceless on the DeKalb school board. He was chair of the education committee. Imagine the good he could have done in DeKalb and the state if he had authored legislation that reformed school district spending and actually held administrations and boards responsible for low student achievement scores. He could have proposed caps on central office expenditures at a percentage of total budget. I always got outvoted when trying to push more money to the classroom. I sure could have used state laws to help me force the district to change its spending ways. Instead, Sen. Millar was a supporter of the bill for getting rid of the BOE. I don’t like the board either but the law is seriously flawed. First, I know it’s unpopular to say, but it’s most likely unconstitutional. Call me sentimental but I like the constitution and believe it applies to the legislature. Let’s ask the Attorney General or the State Supreme Court to quickly hear this case so your time and money isn’t wasted. The law also doesn’t prevent anything. It’s only triggered with a SACS probation. Can’t our legislators come up with a system that prevents situations from getting to this point? They do this in other states. What’s wrong here?

Sen. Millar(R) and Rep. Oliver(D) were part of the downsizing movement of the board from 9 to 7. Many of us told them their plan would not work. Remember, both Millar and Oliver said the board would be reduced to seven at the last election? How did that work out? I and others often asked these legislators and others how it would work. We got blown off with official sounding commentary. In the case of MMO, I watched her literally run away from Pam Speaks at a luncheon at Warren Tech, when she tried to ask her how the downsizing of the board would work.

The DeKalb delegation was instrumental in redrawing the school districts for the last election. I personally appealed to one to see that a map be drawn that aligned neighborhoods that had like issues in common. The current map still keeps the Briarcliff corridor marginalized. This was all done to protect one particular area of the county. Tucker/Stone Mountain should have its rep as well. There really is a logical and legal way to draw these maps to align people. Instead we drew them to assure political autonomy. At a meeting at the capitol I heard one Rep. in the delegation say to Nancy Jester to fix the map so MMO would accept it. Do you see who is driving the bus?

There are two people on this BOE that continually fight for children and reason. They are never heard. It is a shame that they be asked to sacrifice their jobs when they are consistently outvoted on almost every issue.

Remember in 2009 when I challenged the hiring of a particular law firm because they were a duplication of services? That is when Dr. Walker replied to me with his famous “I see color” speech. In it he said he was not race neutral.

Remember this: Dr. Walker, Thurbert Baker, Michael Thurmond, MMO and her protector Speaker Ralston go back a long way.

The sad part about our BOE and county delegation is that maneuvering wins and principles lose.

Flash. This just in. The BOE is asking for an injunction on Thursday’s meeting with the state board. They are challenging the law on constitutional grounds. I think they will win this because the law is most certainly unconstitutional. Same legislators involved in this one. I believe the BOE would benefit with some change, but the law is poorly written. If the injunction fails they will play the race card. That is their only defense.



  1. Interesting how all these people are connected. Makes ya wonder! Chaos seems to pay really well if you are a lawyer or consultant.

  2. Don, you must have forgotten the Supreme Court ruled local boards have exclusive control of education – why we passed the Charter School amendment which I believe you did not support.

    We also spent the past 18 months revising the QBE formula to get more $ in the classroom. Central office $$ were reduced to fund more technology.

    Republicans don’t control redistricting in DeKalb – there are 3 of us and 23 Democrats.

    Finally, the State Board could not intervene until SACS took the probation step.

    Feel free to criticize me but get your facts correct. Assume you will post my response.

  3. Fran,

    I thought the General Assembly as a whole voted on the districts, not the DeKalb delegation. With a Republican majority last year why not do unto others as they have done unto you? State republicans fought hard for control of House and Senate, yet the Republicans allowed Democrats to draw the lines? i realize Federal law plays in here with minority districts, but it was clear to many observers that Ms. Oliver was calling the shots.

  4. But Fran, I need to give credit where due. You did support the Charter Amendment, Thank You. I hope you support the Parent Trigger Bill as well, and also Tom Taylor’s upcoming Bill.

  5. one final comment before my nap – I thought it was the voters of Georgia who passed the Charter Amendment. My bad.

  6. I agree with many of your comments- this is most certainly a very serious roller coaster ride stuck on go and the emergency break is not working!!!

  7. I am disgusted by the racist BS that has infiltrated and ruined the DeKalb County School System. In this day and age, I expect that ALL elected officials, regardless of race, color or creed – be race neutral. PERIOD. The BUFFOONS who are presently in power (and in hot water) have stolen, lied and cheated. What will it take to get rid of them and why do the taxpayers have to fund a legal battle against criminals and crooks????

  8. Anne-Caroline Brown Taylor
    You probably have kids in school as do I. You and I are from a generation that didn’t grow up with the racism our leaders grew up with.

    Dr Gene Walker has a PhD in History from Duke and, as self written in his bio, he was ” the first person of color to hold the position of Majority Whip of the Georgia State Senate.”

    Michael Thurmond is very proud of his color. If you saw his statement at the hearing this past Thursday, he mentioned at least a dozen times that he was the first “black person” to do one thing or another.

    Gene Walker, Michael Thurmond, Cynthia McKinney and civil rights activist Tyrone Brooks all have a history together. The editors of DeKalbSchoolWatch wrote an article, When adults focus on adults, that struck me profoundly.

    Gene Walker and other black leaders today often subscribe to the principals of W.E.B Du Bois, who rightly and bravely pushed for full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite (the ‘talented tenth’).

    I firmly believe that our black leaders see color. I firmly believe many of our black leaders subscribe to W.E.B Du Bois’ theory of the black elite. I firmly believe that our black leaders are prejuidicial and racist.

  9. There is no doubt that our black “leaders” on the BOE see color and that they are prejudicial and racist. They are also corrupt and incompetent, greedy and quite frankly a disgrace to humanity in general. The notion of a “black elite” is as maddening and offensive as the notion of a “white elite”. The only difference is that these people think that they are entitled use their race to gain advantage and privilege and to avoid the scrutiny and standards that traditionally befall elected public officials… to question or criticize somehow equals racism. If that is not hypocrisy, I do not know what is.

    In fact, my views are very race neutral and I cannot stand “racism” or the so called “reverse racism”. In my mind, they are one and the same. I am certain that some people will be waiting to pounce on my willingness to criticize the performance of the school board as racist, which it is most certainly not. I have judged these “leaders” as people and my beliefs are based on the actions and performance of these people as both individuals and
    as a group. I think they should be held criminally accountable for their actions.

    According to my dictionary:

    Hypocrisy is the state of promoting or trying to enforce standards, attitudes, lifestyles virtues, beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually hold and may even regularly violate. Hypocrisy often involves the deception of others and is a lie.

  10. Anne-Caroline Brown Taylor
    You are thoughtful, insightful, well spoken and have the courage to put your name on this blog. Why don’t you run for a seat on the School Board?? Those characteristics are currently in short supply.

  11. Boy would I do thinks differently than they are done now… I have a list of grievances about a mile long — all the way from the school level leadership in one case to the BOE to Michael Thurmond to the Heery Lawsuit….. I could go on and on and on.

  12. Anne-Caroline Brown Taylor
    You would do things differently? You could go on and on? Please do tell. I would love to hear it. Don’t forget that you are one person with one vote out of nine. Also, as a board member you are the policy making body for the DeKalb School District. You also only have one employee with whom you can direct as a board. Everything else is outside the scope of the board like school level leadership.

    You’re an intelligent and thoughtful person. I look forward to hearing your ideas.

  13. I am just one person with one vote out of thousands now but I do not approve of the way that DeKalb County has allowed the BOE to be run. What I think needs to happen is the Governor needs to 86 all of the current members, Michael Thurmond needs to be reassigned elsewhere and they need to build things again, from scratch, from the ground up. I remain hopeful that this is what will happen. They need to start fresh.

    DeKalb Parent, what are your thoughts?

  14. I don’t have high hopes about a crooked Governor or the DeKalb Delegation elevating the situation. Next year all seats will be up for election in the primary.

    Even if we both ran for the Board of Education next year and won, we would be 2 votes out of 7. I’m confident we will continue to have the same type of board members and the same type of Superintendents. The Governor can’t come in every 4 years and replace the board. The framework of education in DeKalb must be changed before education is fixed.

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