If Emory is annexed into Atlanta, it isn’t a stretch to see the scenario where the adjoining neighborhoods, including Druid Hills High School and two other elementary schools, would eventually end up annexed as well.
Marshall Orson is the Board of Education representative from District 2 which includes Druid Hills, Briar Vista, Fernbank, and Sagamore Hills. He provides business development services for intellectual property licensing, acquisitions and partnership transactions.
Mr. Orson will be affected if Atlanta’s annexation into DeKalb goes any further. He has been following this issue closely and provides this analysis and update.
Emory Annexation and DeKalb County Schools
By: Marshall Orson – DeKalb Schools Board of Education
As many of you are aware, Emory University and some adjacent entities (e.g. CDC and CHOA) have requested annexation into Atlanta. After initial opposition by the DeKalb County Government, the city and county have reached agreement on selected issues and the county commission voted to support the annexation. What remains as an open issue is what school government (Atlanta or DeKalb) will have jurisdiction in the annexed area.
In previous annexations in this area, the city ordinances were drafted to alter school district boundaries, shifting annexed areas into APS, even when students and families of DeKalb desired a different outcome. However, when the Emory annexation initially was announced, the city proposed to not change the school district boundaries so that the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) would remain the school government in the annexed area. While the number of students and potential tax revenue in this area is small, it is not simply an academic exercise. This approach has been the consensus plan until recently when the APS Supt. raised objections to this proposal. And, while no school buildings are affected by this annexation, there are potential consequences immediately and going forward.
While expressing no opinion on annexation with regard to city services, DCSD believes that annexations that force school district changes are not consistent with the notion of self-determination in light of how school districts are established in Georgia nor, more importantly, in the best interests of students and families who are impacted. To force such a choice in annexations (i.e. all or nothing) means that citizens either potentially are cut off from what they may perceive as advantages from city services or forced to abandon their current school district which may, in fact, have been a significant factor in where they chose to live. The APS Supt. invokes 145 years of alignment between the city and APS as a rationale for her position but ignores the over 100 years of alignment between the Druid Hills community and DCSD and its predecessors. Emory is such a part of the community that Druid Hills High School sits adjacent to the campus and Fernbank Elementary’ s predecessor school was founded on the Emory campus. The APS approach dismisses out of hand the choices made by these families as well as the value of the long-standing and intertwined relationship between the community and its schools.
One other objection raised to not changing the school district boundaries alleges the outcome would result in “hybrid Atlantans” because some residents would attend APS schools and others would attend DCSD schools. However, many students in the city of Atlanta already do not attend APS schools. Further, Atlantans already have different profiles depending on whether they reside in Fulton or DeKalb—different county commissions and commissioners, different tax commissioners and net tax rates, different court systems, different sheriffs and jails, and so forth. A difference in school governments would be just that—something different. Citizens of Atlanta have coexisted just fine in spite of the differences that already exist.
We believe that the school issue should be separate and apart from any decisions on annexations for municipal services. Ultimately, the Georgia Legislature needs to find a workable and fair mechanism to accomplish this outcome. In the interim, with regard to the Emory annexation, we believe the Atlanta city council should maintain the current school district boundaries—allowing the petitioners to secure what they seek (city services and potentially access to transportation funding) and leaving the school district boundaries intact until a rational and just solution can be crafted. If you agree, I encourage you to reach out to Mayor Reed and the Atlanta city council as soon as possible. Their contact information is attached to this posting.
Carstarphen And APS Desire To Expand Into DeKalb
August 31, 2017 – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Carstarphen signals that she plans on APS annexing DeKalb Schools as the City of Atlanta increases its borders into DeKalb.
Emory Annexation Dominos
September 7, 2016 – If Emory is annexed into Atlanta, it isn’t a stretch to see the scenario where the adjoining neighborhoods, including Druid Hills High School and two other elementary schools, would eventually end up annexed as well.
Marshall Orson On Annexation and the Druid Hills Cluster
January 9, 2015 – Marshall Orson, DeKalb Schools Board Member, talks about the Druid Hills Cluster and annexation saying, “Perhaps it would have been better to just say nothing but I think an informed public is critical to any decisions that may be made. So, here goes:”
Annexation – What happens to the Property
December 16, 2014 – QUESTION: What happens to county school district property when a city annexes an area in that county?
Druid Hills Annexation Into APS
December 15, 2014 – Denied the Druid Hills Cluster, a subset of the cluster known as Together in Atlanta (TIA) has put together a petition to be annexed into Atlanta with the purpose of “more responsive and locally-controlled schools, zoning, and other governmental services.”