DeKalb Superintendent Candidate: Feedback Needed

Backlash escalates as time runs out.

If you are getting this, you are unfortunately in my address book and I believe that you live in Dekalb County. You may or may not have children in the public school system and you may or may not pay property taxes. You may or may not be following the DeKalb Board of Education. 

So, I am writing to let you know that the Board of Education is facing their most important job – which is finding a superintendent to turn our school system around. Currently the system is failing all the students and our property values are suffering. Even what we believe is a good education in many of our area schools is not of the same caliber as what students in other school districts nearby experience so we should all want more for all the students. This is where you come in. 

The Board has presented a candidate to the public. They have to give 14 days notice before they vote and they did that Friday night. Currently, we know a majority of the Board supports the candidate. Two have gone on record publicly after much research stating that they do not believe the candidate has a proven track record of turning a system around and will not vote for this candidate because they want more for our students. (I happen to concur). Board chair Tom Bowen and Board member Dr. Gene have publicly gone on record supporting her. The others have not publicly commented. Requests have been made to the BOE members for data to support this recommendation – to balance the data, not to support her. None has been publicized that I can find. 

To review this candidate’s application, visit the DeKalb web site: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us. To read the information on why two BOE members do not support the candidate, see this link: http://www.nancyjester.com/08142011_dekalbsuperintendentcandidate.aspx. To read more about the candidate’s record in Ohio, go here: http://www.ode.state.oh.us/reportcardfiles/2009-2010/DIST/044263.pdf. You can do a google search of her name for more details. 

Whether you agree with the BOE members who oppose this choice or whether you support this candidate, please let your Board members hear from you in the next day or so. There is not much time and this candidate has come forward quickly. I have concerns about her and have sent the email below. Feel free to use it as a template to get you started if you share my concerns.

Thanks for taking the time to read and speak up for the children of DeKalb. They need some strong advocates for an improved system before it is too late for them. Feel free to pass on to others that may want to know what is going on in DeKalb!


Barbara Arne

Here are the BOE emails: THOMAS_BOWEN@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; SARAH_COPELIN-WOOD@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; JAY_CUNNINGHAM@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; don_mcchesney@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; PAM_SPEAKS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; nancy_jester@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; donna_edler@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; EUGENE_P_WALKER@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us; h_paul_womack@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us;

Here is sample letter to get you started:


I would like more information about Dr. Atkinson, the candidate the Board has selected to serve as superintendent.  I understand that she is very personable but that is not what our children or school system currently need.  Can you please provide me with data to support your choice?

The reason I am requesting this information is because what I have been able to find concerns me for the following reasons:

1. The data available to me does not show a proven track record of turning a system around. While she seems to be making progress this year in Lorain, the system initially worsened under her tenure. Perhaps if she continues in Lorain, she will have a proven track record but we can’t take a chance on whether she can do it. We need someone with a proven track record. I am happy with someone of any skin color and gender if they have been able to meet this  criteria.  

2. She has moved from job to job. We need someone with a record of stability who is committed to the system for several years to turn it around.

3. Her application has mis-spellings. As picky as that may seem, she serves as a role model for our children and a liaison to the stakeholders and business leaders. Poor written communication skills will hurt the system and set a low bar for our students.

4. She clearly was not one of the top 3 choices of the majority of the BOE. What are the reasons are you willing to settle for less now?

5. Her current school district, when compared to other similar districts in Ohio, does not come out favorably under the same measures.

6. Candidates with stronger records have slipped through our fingers. We should accept no less qualified candidates. Our children deserve much more.

7. Without a proven track record, we are taking a chance that she can do it. If she doesn’t succeed, we know the price our children will pay. What will it cost the taxpayers to remove her? The public who is willing to give her a chance will expect the BOE, through her contract terms, to protect the taxpayers and the school system if she is incapable of doing the job and needs to be removed.

I look forward to reviewing the data that has convinced you that Ms. Atkinson is the best candidate for superintendent. If you have any doubts, please slow the process down and allow the Board to more thoroughly research this candidate and other possible options.         

Gil Hearn August 18, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Connect with http://ParentsForDeKalbSchools.org. Take the DCSS approval rating poll and get plugged in with parents and concerned residents across DeKalb County who are working together to effect positive change.
Lisa Kuebler August 18, 2011 at 10:09 PM
DeKalb County School System has just announced a Meet and Greet with Dr. Atkinson. It will be held Saturday, August 27, at 10 am at the DeKalb County School District Administrative Complex (AIC), 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd, Tucker, Ga., 30083. Hopefully we'll get some questions answered!


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