Brookhaven Needs to Acknowledge John Lewis – says the BOE


School locations and board districts

A new Elementary School to be located in Brookhaven was named John Lewis Elementary School earlier this week.

  John Lewis ES – Brookhaven’s New Elementary School

Interestingly, it was done in violation of virtually every policy and regulation we have for naming schools. In particular, the board member from the district was not included on the naming committee (as called for in policy), no one from the community was on the committee (as called for in policy), and there was no research about the history of the area (as called for in the regulation). These are only three of, at least, eleven violations of policy/regulation made during this naming process.

Since the Brookhaven community and the appropriate Board members were not included in the naming process, I asked the other members of the Board of Education, “Do you believe Brookhaven would chose to name their new elementary school after John Lewis?”


Vickie Turner – Board Member

Answer: No. Brookhaven needs to come into this century and acknowledge John Lewis, says Vickie Turner, School Board Member from District 5.

Video & Transcript (abridged)
  Business Meeting discussion on John Lewis Elementary
  Work Session discussion on John Lewis Elementary

Commissioner Nancy Jester
Commissioner
Nancy Jester

I asked Commissioner Nancy Jester for her thoughts,

“That’s quite an assumption. Furthermore, it seems to imply that having another preference for a school name means that you aren’t sufficiently modern, sensitive, or respectful of Rep. Lewis. It implies that you can’t simply prefer another naming convention (location names, etc.) without being racially divisive.

In 2016, shouldn’t we simply be respectful of each individual’s preferences without trying to shame them, label them, or trivialize their worth or opinion? And in 2016, why would an elected official feel the need to identify a person as a member of a group (a community, a color, etc.) and then denigrate the group? Isn’t the idea of civil rights to acknowledge and respect the dignity and value of each individual?”

— Commissioner Nancy Jester


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Recap
John Lewis is a civil rights leader leader and sitting U.S. Representative for the 5th congressional district.

Marshall Orson chaired a renaming committee consisting of 3 Latino parents and 7 administrators. They were charged with naming the ICS building which will be temporarily reconstituted to house some of the overflow from Montclair elementary. Marshall Orson asked to rename the ICS building in honor of his personal friend, sitting Congressman, John Lewis.

Furthermore, in direct conflict with at least 11 policies and regulations of the DeKalb County School District, Mr. Orson requested that when the ICS building is closed, and the new elementary school in Brookhaven opens, that the new school in Brookhaven be named after John Lewis.


Governance Issues
So why is adhereance to policy so important? Well, for one, it can affect accreditation. To use the words of Mark Elgart, CEO of AdvancED/SACS, “In 2004, this system was on probation for governance issues.” In April of 2013, Dr. Elgart visited the Board of Education and talked about the governance issues when a school district neglects its own policies.

School District Policy FDC & Policy Regulations FDC-R: Naming Facilities
Was the process in naming the new school in Brookhaven congruent with school district policy and regulations?

FDC – Unless waived by the Board, a facility may not be named for a living individual or an individual who has been deceased less than five years. John Lewis is alive and an active member of Congress

A.1 – a School Naming/Renaming Committee shall be formed consisting of at least eleven but not more than fifteen members. – The school naming committee had 10 members consisting of 3 parents and 7 administrators.

A.2 – The primary Board of Education Member shall serve as the Chair of the committee. – McMahan is the board member for the new elementary school at the Skyland location. In accordance with regulation A.2, McMahan should chair the committee charged with naming the new elementary school in Brookhaven.

A.3 – Other Board of Education Members whose district includes the school or affected schools shall serve on the committee. McMahan’s district clearly includes schools affected by the new elementary school, yet was excluded from the committee.

A.6 – The principals of the feeder schools that will be aligned with the school shall each select a parent or a student to serve on the committee. – There were only 3 parents on the committee and they were all from Montclair ES.

A.8 – Once the membership of the committee has been determined, the Chair shall submit the names of the committee members to the Board of Education. The names were not submitted to the board during the process. The names of the committee were only revealed at the board meeting where the board voted on this matter.

A.9 – The committee will meet at least three times over a four-month period. – The committee met twice.

C.2 – The top three school [names] shall be placed on a community ballot. – There was no community ballot.

C.3 – Within ten days of the committee meeting at which the community ballot was approved, the ballot shall be distributed via email to the principals of all feeder schools and any other affected schools. The email shall instruct principals to copy and distribute the community ballots to all students in their schools. A ballot was never distributed to principals and a copy never went home to any students thereby notifying the parents and community the district was planning on naming the new school in Brookhaven.


The Question

Since Brookhaven’s new Elementary School was just recently named in such a way it violated virtually every policy and regulation we have for naming schools, I asked the members of the Board of education, “Do you believe Brookhaven would chose to name their new elementary school after John Lewis?” Here are their responses from the Business Meeting discussion on John Lewis Elementary

Dr. Joyce Morley – “The elephant in the room is the fact that Brookhaven doesn’t want somebody of a different color on their school … It’s because of people with their racist attitudes and mindsets who are afraid to come and deal with it … We need to ask ourselves if it was somebody else’s name, if it was a different persuasion, would we say the same thing. As the Governor of Ohio said, No“.

Vickie Turner – “Brookhaven needs to come into this century and acknowledge John Lewis … We need to grow as people and adults. The best place to start is with our children. It’s to teach them about the historical figures in our history of color.”

Marshall Orson – “It’s apropos to name a school like this after somebody like John Lewis … What was heartening is the parent participants in this process, all of whom were Hispanic were the ones who pushed the idea for naming him.”

Dr. Michael Erwin – “Your comment was, Would Brookhaven have chosen this name if they had the ability to chose?. That is a direct slap in the face of the history of African Americans in this country. I can’t believe you let that out of your mouth.”

Jim McMahan – “I support naming Congressman John Lewis elementary school. I also support the community supporting that. I appreciate Mr. Orson’s advocacy and time spent on this, but if it is a permanent name for the permanent location, I think the challenge was that it was not asked of the permanent community.”

Stan Jester – “My only objection to this was the lack of local control and breaking rules and regulations. I’m disappointed and to some extent offended that when I asked the question, Do you believe this is the name that the Brookhaven community would chose for their elementary school? … If John Lewis is so great, I think we would all say yes. But all of a sudden everybody starts bringing race into this … black and white. I didn’t do that, y’all did that.”


John Lewis ES
Brookhaven’s New Elementary School

July 10, 2016 – In May the DeKalb BOE announced agreements with the City of Brookhaven and the Georgia State Properties Commission to acquire 11.2 acres at Skyland Park for a new elementary school. The new school going up in Brookhaven to be named John Lewis Elementary.

58 responses to “Brookhaven Needs to Acknowledge John Lewis – says the BOE

  1. It was up to all BOE members of that district proactively be part of the process. Naming this school was a duty and Marshall Orson got the job done. It I had had an opinion about the name or process, believe me, I would have made sure I was involved in every step. It is inappropriate and untimely yo come back after the fact and question how it was done. I was embarassed for the school district watching that whole scene on Monday. Please do not forget that the former board was removed for such divisiveness. Mr. Orson, Ms, Turner, Dr, Morley, Dr. Johnson and Dr. Erwin were not the ones to make this an issue. If you wanted to be part of the process and police it, you should have helped organize the effort.

  2. Adrienne Duncan

    Not feeling a whole lot of love from the “Love Doctor” up there.

    If the issue is racial diversity in acknowledging the naming of major institutions, wouldn’t an Hispanic or Asian figure be toward the top of the list with the Buford Highway corridor nearby?

    Besides, isn’t an individual supposed to be deceased for at least 5 years before an institution is named for them?

  3. Heather Hunter

    As a member of the Brookhaven community for over 3 decades, I am very pleased to have his name on our new school. I wish we could have him back as our congressman.

  4. I saw in the news that Dekalb named another school recently, this one after President Obama. Stan, can you speak to if proper procedure was followed naming this school? Or is it a different set of rules? I think it’s great that we will have two schools named after influential people of color, and especially that our district will be the first in Ga to name a school after President Obama. I am also concerned about rules not being followed. Not so much about naming a school, which seems to me pretty inconsequential in the long run, but in the bigger picture of rules not being followed in general by the BOD. If they ignored the rules in this case, how can we trust them to follow the rules in more consequential situations? Finally, is it even wise to name schools after people? I went to public school in another state, and all my schools were simply, “X City Elementary, X City Middle, X City High.”

  5. Oh boy Stan. You have been set up. You see, these members of the board want what they want, seek to get it by breaking the rules, and then call you out as some kind of racist when you point out the rule-breaking.

    I will recap some other interesting decisions in the works so far this year:

    Not agreeing to supporting the former GM site development, forgoing a chance at an enormous increase in tax collections in the future in order to maintain the status quo in perpetuity, as No One Else will develop this environmentally dirty, enormous site without some incentives.

    Actually considering moving the magnet program from Chamblee to SW DeKalb (which already has a magnet program, as well as a full magnet, almost private school – Arabia – nearby).

    Considering adding classrooms to Lakeside, the school with the largest capacity of any high school in DeKalb, yet landlocked and accessible only by 2 lane roads, in order to relieve over-crowding at Cross Keys, which has been ignored for decades.

    Approving a vague ‘list of needs’ to pose to voters in order to keep the hundreds of millions in SPLOST dollars flowing.

    Looking to apply for Strategic Waiver School System status, in order to continue the horrible, education-busting waivers like class size, etc. in order to fully fund a bloated administration, rather than commit to funding the classrooms at a minimum of 65% as required by the state.

    Rejecting a property tax rate rollback as is common in jurisdictions in order to maintain steady tax collections, instead opting for yet another windfall from the increase in property values since the rate hike in 2012 – approved due to the Great Recession and the fact that we were broke at the time. Apparently, $1.2 Billion just isn’t enough to keep this school system afloat.

    +++

    This is about control over a billion dollar enterprise. You aren’t gonna win against this group Stan. Really. You are a lone wolf howling at a deaf moon.

  6. BTW, I am a big fan of John Lewis. A lot of white people are. And a lot of people in Brookhaven are. Sadly, the member of the board who said, “Brookhaven needs to come into this century and acknowledge John Lewis … We need to grow as people and adults. It’s to teach them about the historical figures in our history of color.” is way out of line. She is making quite a broad sweep of the brush – assuming Brookhaven residents are somehow still living in the last century? Very insulting indeed.

    But mild in temperament compared to the other board member who said, ““The elephant in the room is the fact that Brookhaven doesn’t want somebody of a different color on their school … It’s because of people with their racist attitudes and mindsets who are afraid to come and deal with it … We need to ask ourselves if it was somebody else’s name, if it was a different persuasion, would we say the same thing. As the Governor of Ohio said, No”.”

    …All of Brookhaven doesn’t want somebody of a different color on their school?!!! Really – really insulting. Plus, I believe she may have been referring to the Governor of Minnesota, not Ohio. Of course, they are both white therefore, both exactly the same in her mind.

    ps – Just barely over half of Brookhaven is white… From Georgia demographics >> “The largest Brookhaven racial/ethnic groups are White (56.3%) followed by Hispanic (26.6%) and Black (9.3%).”

  7. Paula Caldarella

    This is not about whether or not the new Brookhaven school should be named for John Lewis.

    People,

    THE.DEKALB.COUNTY.SCHOOL.DISTRICT.JUST.REGAINED.ITS.FULL.ACRREDITATION.FROM.SACS.IN.FEBRUARY.OF.THIS.YEAR!!

    Here is what Mark Elgart said at that time:

    “DeKalb will undergo an accreditation review during the 2016-2017 school year. Elgart said it should show whether DeKalb is stable enough to keep making progress. We’ll have a real clear sense of whether the changes on the board, the changes in policy and the appointment of a new superintendent have been sustained and that not only is this leading to better governance, but more importantly, the system’s performance as a whole, especially as it relates to student learning, is progressing in a positive direction,” Elgart said.”

    All of this racial nonsense coming from Morley, reminds me so much of the days of Sarah Copelin-Wood and Zepora Roberts. Remember how that turned out? For almost 5 years this school district came very close to losing accreditation. The overwhelming fault for this lies with past Boards of Education and their bad behavior and decision making, or lack-thereof.

    No matter what decisions the Board of Education is faced with or whether it is in favor of what is being requested of them, this BOE and all future BOE MUST follow, at all times, Board policy and district regulations or the school system will find it’s on a downward spiral again.

  8. Unbelievable!
    Where are the DCS attorneys at these meetings? Why did it get to such place without legal advice about policies and procedures?
    John Lewis is a great choice. However, this MESS is disrespectful to him, and the residents of the county.
    BTW, sooooooo tired of dealing with the constant racial below-the-belt comments and bickering from some members. Can we all spell PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT?
    Question: is it practice for a DCS attorney to be present at meetings, to guide the members?
    If not, it should be considered before the BoE paints itself into more corners.

  9. Just a point of order: Montclair parents are mostly Brookhaven community members. I think your point, Stan, is that the Skyland neighborhood wasn’t involved. I hope I have that correct.

  10. Tim DeBardelaben

    Is it not up to the Chair of the committee to ask and allow people to be on the committee? Every committee I have ever worked on you served at the pleasure of the Chair. When Cross Keys Cluster is talked about the word discrimination should always be used. The students in that cluster have been discriminated against for years. Stan Jester you mentioned there were only 2 meetings and not the required 3. Think you left out a very important detail. The third meeting was the meeting for public input. To me that was the problem, no public input by the parents of the students who will be attending this school. You also left out a very another important detail. School policy says no less than 11 and no more than fifteen. So Mr. Orson could have invited 5 more community members so they would be the majority of the committee. The community ballot was suppose to have the top three names selected by the committee. Were there ever any other name considered or did Marshall Orson bulldog his friends name to pass. John Lewis is an icon. He deserves every honor bestowed to him. He has fought his entire life asking people to do the right thing and for this he always got my vote when I lived in his district. To name a school after him in this way to me is a huge disservice to the man. Marshall Orson and the rest of the Board should be ashamed of themselves by involving this Icon of justice in this controversy….I wonder what Congressman Lewis thinks about his name being used on a school that maintains the segregation of Hispanic students?

  11. Stan Jester

    Outside legal counsel, currently Nelson Mullins, is at every board work session and business meeting. Policy FDC states, “Unless waived by the Board, a facility may not be named for a living individual or an individual who has been deceased less than five years.” It is not uncommon to waive the 5 year waiting period.

    I don’t believe it’s a good idea to name schools after politicians because you will inevitably disenfranchise some part of the community. However, if the community comes together like it apparently did for the ISC building and Obama Elementary, then I support that community’s decision.

    Kim, correct … Montclair is mostly inside the Brookhaven community. One of my points was that when the new elementary school at Skyland opens, half of Brookhaven could be affected (not just the Skyland area). Aside from a few people in the Montclair attendance zone, nobody in Brookhaven knew about this. Everybody potentially affected was supposed to have input. The board member representing that school is supposed to be the chair. Neither of those things happened.

    Mr. Orson appropriately chaired the committee to rename the ISC building and the community going to it was relatively well notified from what I’m told. The same with Dr. Erwin naming his school. But Mr. Orson’s committee naming a school over in Skyland without anybody around there being notified is not appropriate nor remotely close to the procedures, policies and regulations we have for naming a school.

  12. Threeperros

    Good points, Tim.

  13. After spending years in Dekalb schools I can tell you their definition of diversity and it is not what you will find in the dictionary. I find the comments from the BOE incredibly insulting and racially divisive. Shame on them!

  14. Tim DeBardelaben

    Another point I would like to mention. In June I asked Marshall Orson what names were being considered for the school. He stated to me as long as it was in committee he could not divulge the names to me. In June his committee should have already had a community ballot drawn up and sent out and he should have had the third meeting for community input. Marshall Orson lied to me when he said he could not divulge the names and he was actively covering up letting the community know about the name.

  15. This is disgusting. A person doesnt agree therefore he/she condemned as a racist. Board members assuming a wide swath of the community is racist? Disagreement and division is expected of Board members but these folks comments were far from the “profesional standards” required to run our board. Follow the policies and procedures and leave the baggage at the door. They serve on a board that makes decisions that affect all of this county NOT JUST THEIR OWN COMMUNITY. They need to start acting like they represent all students, parents and stakeholders. This is exactly why I renew my objection to the fact that that the entire county can’t vote on every one of these people. Things will never change until this happens. I hope SACS gets wind of this performance. Here we go again. Cant wait to see this on national tv.

  16. Another very interesting comment from Dr. Dr. Joyce Morley

    “You can’t change a person’s heart nor their mindset in an evening. A lot of this is the vestiges of what is taking place in this country. There are wars here in America and DeKalb County. Wars of perpetrated frauds.”

    What on earth? Who is this woman and why is she so full of vitriol?

    Here is her bio from her website >> http://www.doctorjoyce.com/pages/DJAbout.htm
    Dr. Joyce Morley was born the youngest of fourteen children and is the mother of three daughters. She is the owner and CEO of Morley & Associates, Inc. and is affectionately known as “Dr. Joyce, the Luv Doctor”. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in Elementary Education/Psychology from SUNY Geneseo; a Master of Science degree (MS) in Counseling from SUNY Brockport, Specialist degrees (Ed.S.) in Counseling and Education Administration from SUNY Brockport, and a Doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in Counseling, Family and Worklife (CFW) from the University of Rochester.

    I wanted to put this out there. I like to deal with people as individuals – not as identifying with some kind of oppressed or enlightened group. Dr. Joyce Morley has an awful lot of education and is very successful. She doesn’t seem to be hurting or suffering. I had to put myself through college by waiting on tables in restaurants. I don’t recall getting any kind of special treatment. I worked very hard just to earn a simple bachelor’s degree. I resent the assumptions she makes about my story, my ‘privilege’ and my thinking. There is no ‘elephant in the room’ other than the very hostile feeling she openly exudes toward white people.

  17. And as far as Marshall Orson goes, he has a very entitled sense of control. Wasn’t it Marshall who spearheaded the hiring of Michael Thurmond behind closed doors to cover for the FACT that the current superintendent had gone AWOL and we were without a leader? Yes, Marshall decided it would be Michael Thurmond (with NO experience in education and who actually sent his children to private school instead of his local DeKalb schools) who would jump in and make it all look ok. The majority of the board went along and a superintendent was hired without any vetting or public input whatsoever.

    And now comes Marshall again, who claims to actually BE a lawyer, breaking board protocol because he wants what he wants. Amazing! He includes a whopping THREE parents – all from the same school – and then back pedals saying, “It was the parents who were pushing for the school to be named after John Lewis!” Wow! All three of them?!!

    All I can say is, this is a slippery slope. If the tables were turned on Morley, etc, the world would come down hard on any group who dared name a school without following board policy. This is why the board has policies. So people can’t go running off and taking charge as if this is a monarchy and they are a monarch. Bottom line: Naming the school after John Lewis is against board policy in many ways. First, you have to change the policy – then go try to do your thing. It’s called protocol. Without it, there’s anarchy.

  18. “The only reason you approve of Barack Obama elementary is because it’s in a black neighborhood. Would you let Barack Obama be the name of the school in your neighborhood? No. Let’s be clear about that.” – Joyce Morley

    Sigh.

  19. It astounds me how many people on this comment forum are missing the big picture.

    This is not about whether John Lewis is deserving. This is about whether the Board is going to follow its own policies.

    If the Board chooses to selectively follow policies, that undermines uniform standards, which make it harder to maintain quality control with regards to personnel, finances and programs.

    When someone does something of questionable nature, their stock defense will be, “I chose not to follow that particular policy.”

    Do we really want to open this can of worms?

    P.S. Ironically, the naming policy was created to avoid political fights. But look what we have on our hands.

  20. Yes policies and processes should be followed for naming, and lack of this following of policies continues to be a very serious issue for Dekalb county schools and government entities whose powerful people at the top use and abuse their power. They fail to follow the policies put In Place precisely intended to prevent this type of decision from being made by a small group of individuals based on their political persuasion or individual preferences. I have seen improvements in Dekalb schools communication but I’m disappointed learning about this unprofessional decision making process!

  21. So, just imagine if you will, a ‘different’ group holds the majority of the Board. This group holds a private meeting and decides to name a new school that is temporarily opening in one very small, isolated district “David Duke Magnet School for Future Leaders of America”… and oh, by the way – this name HAS to stick for the new school, which will be built next door to Martin Luther King Jr. High School. They are setting up a precedent for something like this to occur. (Disclaimer: I am in no way comparing John Lewis to David Duke – just pointing out how breaking rules can be abused. This is exactly why rules exist – to prevent a scenario like I described. Going forward, someone with this kind of ideology would only need to point to this month’s decision to show precedent.)

  22. I was in a City of Brookhaven and DCSD community meeting with Skyland and Drew Valley residents this evening and there was not one mention of the name for the school as a concern (and they had a long list). Not sure what it means but I thought it worth sharing that the neighbors of the planned school were in the room with Dr. Green and staff and didn’t mention it once in two hours of small group discussion.

  23. John Lewis recently on social media, “You’ve got to love everybody. As Dr. King once said, you’ve got to love the hell out of them.” Perhaps he can run a retreat for the BoE …

  24. Kim, I doubt many if any of them know. Also … Very few people I talk to have ever heard of John Lewis. A member of the naming committee mentioned to me that a number of people on the naming committee had never heard of him.

  25. When the DeKalb Board doesn’t follow policy, bad things always happen. Remember when a past board didn’t follow policy and didn’t contribute to the teachers TSA accounts? The teachers sued and Roy Barnes is representing them. That matter goes back before 2010 and I bet that will be quite the settlement when it happens. See what happens when the board waives their own policy?

  26. Curious – why, as Chair of the Board, didn’t Melvin Johnson insist that the board policy was followed when setting up this committee? Seems like a violation of policy makes the vote moot.

  27. Dr. Johnson didn’t set up the committee. Putting a naming committee together to name a school is usually done at the direction of the superintendent. Sometime principals initiate the request to form a naming committee if they want to name something at the school.

    Don’t forget, this all started off with naming the old ISC building which is in Orson’s district. Half way through the process, they decided they wanted to name the Skyland school while they were at it.

  28. Tim DeBardelaben

    Stan Jester it is shameful for people to not know who John Lewis is, he truly a Icon of American history. He deserves any honors that are bestowed on him and for you to repeat that nobody knows him makes you look bad also. What I see here is a serious problem with this Boards conduct. First if you go back and read SACS report in 2012 that got DCSD put on probation. The second paragraph under findings takes DCSD to task for not following their own written policies . They question the effectiveness of the the ability to supply governance and the impact on the system and it ability to meet standards required for accreditation. Later in report it criticizes the conduct and interaction of the Board during meetings. Whether the way Stan Jester was showing a racial prejudice or not, the reaction of the other Board members were equally unprofessional. Is the BOE slipping back to their old ways is the question that we the residents really should be worried about.

  29. Tim DeBardelaben

    This committee exceeded their authority. At that point Marshall Orson should have contacted Jim McMahan and let McMahan co-chair the committee. The strange part about this entire deal is according to policy when a school moves they have the right to change name of school. Of course that is only the written policy….might not mean a thing…none of the policy seems to apply anyway…

  30. Stan, the elevations in the DCSD briefing for Skyland and Drew Valley residents were all labeled as “John Lewis Elementary” as were all verbal references. No one batted an eye. I respect the concerns about process but really don’t see the issue with the name. I think few people will. There are few black Americans (minus athletes!) with more name recognition than John Lewis. He is a living legend and an American icon recognized by name and image worldwide.

  31. So a board member can just set up a committee and start working on something like naming a school at your discretion, without having to answer to the board chair about protocol? Interesting.

    Also, I’m not surprised people don’t know John Lewis. I was chatting with a nice young man who was educated in DeKalb and works at a business near my home. He had no idea who Jimmy Carter was.

  32. I’m just about ready for the State of Georgia or some other outside party to come in and take control of the Dekalb County School System. We don’t need to let this thing get to the point it was on December 18, 2012. If we can’t work together well enough to simply name one elementary school, then some adults need to come in and protect the accreditation of our schools and the interests of our children. Why not just leave it without a name?

  33. I’m betting a whole bunch of people will care about John Lewis elementary when they are zoned out of Ashford Park elementary school and put in John Lewis elementary.

  34. The Brookhaven Post, online, this morning, published a detailed article with detailed plans for the John Lewis ES.
    It’s a done-deal and they are moving forward.
    DCBOE, please follow rules and keep dysfunction to an absolute minute, minuscule, minimum.
    PLEASE!
    Plenty of time, before the opening, for the last uninformed person in DC to find out who John Lewis is.
    Not surprised, our Nation only mandates and controls the information taught to our children…if it is on the standardized tests and are measured to rate children, teachers and the school. Jimmy Carter and John Lewis most likely did not make the test-driven curriculum. Topic for another day.

  35. I agree with HA Hurley. Cut the crap, stop the insults, follow the rules, respect your colleagues, and always remember that you serve the people of Dekalb County and conduct yourselves accordingly. I haven’t heard anybody say specifically that he/she is opposed to naming the school for John Lewis – they just want to follow the rules that the Board of Education has established in order to do so. If you don’t like the rules that you have approved, change them! But follow your procedures.

  36. People, people, people – Mark Elgart will never again do anything again about DeKalb’s accreditation. Why is that, you ask? Well, he’s now a resident of Brookhaven and has started a new family. He can’t jeopardize his own property value. He doesn’t want to call attention to his new family.

  37. Our county is littered with failed politicians names on roads, bridges, exits and schools. Wait for our incompetent elected officials to name something after Sharon Barnes Sutton. Things are really in a sad state right now.

  38. Mark My Words

    John Lewis…who doesn’t even represent Brookhaven in a city where the demographics are predominately white and hispanic. The Dekalb County School Board are anti-white racists by naming the school after Lewis.

    Why are there no schools, in predominately black neighborhoods named after white political figures?

    Mark my words….once the new elementary school is completed, the Dekalb County School Board will do everything it can to damage property values in the surrounding predominately white neighborhoods, in drawing the attendance boundaries. As my neighborhood says, both the Dekalb County government and Dekalb County School Board have it out for Brookhaven.

  39. Mark My Words, firstly, there are infinite number of minority districts all across America served by schools named after white leaders, political and otherwise. So, baseless foundation for an argument. Stop trying to make this black vs white. That is a losing framework for dialog in DeKalb and I believe in our country. As for the new school service area you are simply fear-mongering and have become part of the problem.

  40. This word “infinite”, I don’t think it means what you think it means. Let me know when the official discussion about the naming of the new elementary school becomes something other than race. When’s the last time you went to a meeting held by Joyce Morley, Sharon Barnes Sutton, DeKalb Strong, etc … ? I’ve got some bad news for you … it’s always about race.

  41. I must clarify: I fully support John Lewis – his life and his legacy. I would certainly have voted to name the school after the man. However, as a ‘rule-follower’, I would have ensured that board policy was strictly followed in the process. I am assuming that is Stan’s point as well. The former board got in a mess of trouble for not following their own policies. We really don’t want to travel back down that old road ever again. Just do things the right way, openly and transparently – don’t just go ram-rodding things opaquely ‘your way’. That’s all.

  42. Kim, you stated that the drawings shown at a community meeting already called the school “John Lewis Elementary” and that all verbal references were to “John Lewis Elementary.” Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Or were these meetings held after the BOE vote? Or perhaps you’ll say this is just being too picky.

    I appreciate the fact that you, a very involved Brookhaven citizen, did not hear any concern about the name of the school. So maybe in this case ignoring the policy gave a good result. But isn’t this a very slippery slope?

    Sigh.

  43. Tim DeBardelaben

    The meeting that Kim referred to was after the BOE meeting. Which brings up another point. Where was that meeting advertised. Did you see the pictures? The reason I ask is because it does not appear as though there was a large turnout nor was one expected by the way the room was set up. One day DCSD will have to do something other than talk. I personally have not heard anybody say John Lewis does not deserve the honor but then again have not heard anybody say it was fair the way it was named. As far as Magnet schools, why can’t Dekalb have more than one ? Personally think one for south, central and north part of county should be the reality. Dekalb use to have the best school system in the state and one of the top rated in the nation. When Jim Cherry was in charge we were in the middle of the space race. He built us a planetarium so we could study space. He said we should have affordable education after high school so he built us Dekalb Jr. College and Dekalb Tech. All of which has returned dividends far beyond the cost. He also believed in community based schools. Think we should get back to that philosophy. When you take the students especially Elementary school students out of their neighborhoods I do not believe it helps anybody except DCSD because it is more cost effective form of education. Sorry but this Board is starting to scare me.

  44. Brookhaven needs to partner with our other recently emancipated cities to create our own school district. That way we can be free of this blatantly racist and incompetent BOE. I’m fine with John Lewis, but I can’t stomach the DeKalb BOE; their comments and naked hatred towards half of their county is beyond the pale and has no place in this day and age. MLK Jr. would be appalled.

  45. Brookhavenparent

    I have an issue with the name as many actually do. To say people do not have an issue with this name is quite out of touch with many of the parents in this surrounding area. I hear multiple complaints about how this was done on a daily basis. This is not because he isn’t deserving of recognition. It has nothing to do with him. It is the fact there are so many changes happening and we had no say or consideration at all to provide any input. It would have been a nice gesture to ask someone from the neighborhood near the school for their thoughts. Even if you didn’t end up listening. Just to extend an olive branch and make them feel valued. Why was the committee only made up of Hispanic parents? This feels like reverse discrimination to us. A slap on the wrist for things done before we even moved into the area. Not the way to start things in Brookhaven, and the comments I am reading from the Board members are so disgusting….

  46. The first problem is that DeKalb Schools administration and many Brookhaven elected officials are fine with this. As reported by Kim Gokce in the Brookhaven Post, DeKalb Schools administration met with a few of the residents from somewhere along with Brookhaven elected officials including Mayor Ernst and Councilman Parks shortly after the name was approved by everybody on the school board except me.

    Those residents, the Mayor, and Councilman are fine with this. Even school board member Jim McMahan, who was supposed to chair the committee to rename the school and was completely left out of the process, voted to approve the name.

    The new school in Brookhaven is right in the middle of the Ashford Park elementary attendance zone (more or less), so I’m not sure why nobody from the Ashford Park area was consulted about this. Being Summer, I’m not sure how many people from Skyland/Ashford Park even know.

    Feel free to contact your Mayor and Councilman and let them know how you feel. The movement to address this will have to come from the community and city leadership.

  47. Brookhavenparent

    I know for a fact many parents at that meeting are upset by the name. It was only unveiled at the beginning of the meeting. They have said they did not even have time to digest it and had more important questions to ask at the time. Now the way the school was named is most certainly being questioned by more than the BOE realizes

  48. I understand … That makes sense. Please ask them to comment here with their thoughts. I’m constantly being told how everybody in that room approved.

  49. I still say that it is the responsibility of the BOE to be proactive when these issues, such as school naming, are in the agenda. You cannot sit back, let someone pick up the ball and when they quit the game start complaining that you did not get to play. Villianizing people and procedures after the fact is counter-productive, especially with SO MANY critical issues you need to deal with.

  50. Threeperros, To your point … I was proactively talking to Marshall Orson for many weeks prior to the vote asking him to include or at least notify the Ashford Park community, Skyland community and Brookhaven leadership. Marshall was leading the committee and the rules and regulations said that was his responsibility.

    We were given the agenda 2 weeks prior to the July board meeting and the renaming of the Skyland school was not on it (not even a place holder which they do sometimes), so I continued to work with Marshall on notifying the community. I expected to work with Marshall for the following 6 weeks. However, much to my surprise, the weekend right before the Monday board meeting, the Skyland school renaming was slipped onto the end of the agenda.

    At this point, I no longer had the time to convince Marshall to do what I thought was the right thing. The second I saw it on the agenda and none of the aforementioned groups had been contacted, I raised the red flag and reached out to the community at large myself.

    A day later the board voted on it and here we are.

  51. Brookhavenparent

    No one from the Ashford Park, Drew Valley, Brookhaven Fields, Skyland communities were notified these discussions were happening. I believe we were left out of the loop intentionally. It was wrong. Any other school district I know of allows public suggestions and a fun public voting process to get the community excited. This was decided without input from all stakeholders and we were told after the fact and then told to “get over it”. The BOE has an entirely new audience of young families who were not here 10 years ago. We didn’t have preconceived notions of the BOE. Now we have concerns and some board members should be ashamed to not consider the full picture and exclude full public input from things that impact the public. Isn’t that discriminatory? Also it was against the policy. That is black and white and cannot be disputed if we want to talk black and white.

  52. Brookhavenparent

    Stan can you ensure my comments are forward to the BOE? We are organizing ourselves to ensure we have more have a say the next time our schools are named. Please let them know it has nothing to do w John Lewis. He is innocent in this, and his name should have been included on any voting ballot. It has everything to do with us being excluded and not considered at all. We would have rather there had been no parents included instead of just those from the Latino association. That makes it worse in my opinion and much more intentional.

  53. Tim DeBardelaben

    On June 15 I asked Marshall Orson specifically what names the Committee was considering. He told me he could not divulge the names as long as it was still in Committee. Problem with that is by then the community ballot should have already been sent out. Unfortunately that part DCSD written policy was not followed. By June 15 Marshall Orson should have been advertising a public meeting on DCSD website as required by written DCSD policy. But since the public meeting which is required by DCSD written policy was never held, I guess not advertising it makes sense. On June 15 I also asked Marshall Orson who was on the committee and he stated parents from Montclair E.S. and representatives from the Toco Hills area on a limited basis. This from what I was told is another lie told by Marshall Orson. People the fix was in. I have forwards my emails to a BOE to back up my claims. There never any intention of allowing public input.

  54. Brookhaven Parent and Tim,
    Keep up the fight! You are correct. The process of renaming a school as it pertains to Skyland has been a complete violation of board policy. We must continue to let the board, specifically Marshall Orson, know about our opposition to this. He violated our trust in so many ways.

  55. Tim DeBardelaben

    What we should be doing is finding a quality candidate to run against him when he comes up for reelection. If you recall he was the Board member that Channel 46 did a story on when he was trying to get Atlanta to annex Druid Hills. That is the only area that he listens to the parents. His district is to large and should be redistricted so that everybody should get true representation on the Board. As long as the Cross Keys Cluster has 3 different representatives they will always be treated like second class citizens because no Board member needs their vote to be elected.

  56. Tim DeBardelaben

    The other thing that I have failed to point out is according to written policy anytime a school moves it can have it’s name changed. So when the new school is ready if people want to they can petition to have name changed. This will be an embarrassing turn of events for both the BOE and John Lewis. So BOE will probably fight to keep it from happening but at least it will have to be a public fight.

  57. Brookhavenparent

    To me it makes total sense to name the new Doraville elementary school for John Lewis since this is his home state and I doubt Pres Obama will ever really know/truly care he has this school named after him. This way, Rep Lewis is still permanently honored and we can avoid hurting his feelings- I hate he is caught in the middle of this. This will open the door to following procedure and policy for the Brookhaven school naming

  58. Tim DeBardelaben

    The name is not the issue. As I have said previously John Lewis deserves all the honors that can be bestowed on him. Just think this school and the way his name was selected is not honoring him and what he has stood for his entire life. Matter of fact if they keep the school open after new school is opened and let this school serve the community that it is located in, I would have absolutely no problem keeping the name. Just think if you have written policy you should follow that policy because it gives the community a chance to give input.