Atlanta & Atlanta Public Schools Annexing DeKalb

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

If Emory is annexed into Atlanta, we are likely to see the adjoining Druid Hills neighborhoods petition for annexation as well.
The Druid Hills area generates substantial tax revenue for the school district. In addition to the property tax revenue from the area, each student “earns” the school district funding from the state; commonly referred to as QBE funding. During the 2014 debate about a Druid Hills Charter Cluster, interesting budget calculus was discussed that revealed the area generates substantially more funding than it receives in school services. This “excess” funding, is used by the school district to support other spending and jobs outside of the Druid Hills area. If the Druid Hills area is annexed, DeKalb Schools would lose this subsidy.
Druid Hills is in unincorporated DeKalb County and school children living in the area are zoned to attend DeKalb County Schools. Students in Atlanta, regardless of the county in which they live, attend Atlanta Public Schools (APS). If Atlanta annexes any neighborhoods in Druid Hills, those neighborhoods would become part of the City of Atlanta.

Update 12/5/2017 – Atlanta expands eastward by completing annexation of Emory and CDC – Atlanta officials completed the largest expansion of the city’s borders in 65 years Monday, absorbing Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention despite objections that the move takes money from DeKalb County public school students.
Until last week, the annexation proposal didn’t alter DeKalb school districts. That changed at the urging of Council members and Atlanta Public Schools. They argued that schools should be included in any incorporation. The change in schools takes effect July 1

Question: If Atlanta annexes the Druid Hills area should the families in the annexed area attend Atlanta Public Schools? Should the school real estate property in the annexed area go to Atlanta Public Schools too?
The law says YES (Fulton County BOE v. College Park BOE), but DeKalb Schools Superintendent says NO!
Proposed Emory annexation and changes to school district boundaries

Superintendent Stephen Green

By: Dr. Stephen Green
Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will always and empathically stand against the placement of political considerations over the welfare and education of children. The decision to include the unchecked expansion of the Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) boundaries as part of the proposed annexation of Emory University by the City of Atlanta is a clear example of such an action.
The desire of the families in the Druid Hills community is clear; to maintain the 100-year alignment with DCSD. The inclusion of the APS boundaries in the proposed annexation ignores that while establishing a dangerous precedent where one of Georgia’s most affluent school systems, one with a large political power base, can prey upon their neighbors and chip away at a less affluent school district’s ability to serve its children.
The facts in this unfettered overreach and deal-making are clear. The expansion is irrelevant and unnecessary: it was not included in the original plan and was shoehorned in at the 11th hour. The expansion is about money: the change in boundaries impacts just 10 students yet will strip $2.5 million in vital resources from DCSD. The expansion is about power: APS’ legislative agenda is to use annexations as a springboard to slice swaths of resources from its eastern neighbors.
The expansion is not about education or children.
There is no clear, thoughtful rationale of how this school district boundary change can positively impact children. DCSD is prepared to face down the challenge to its ability to educate its students in every available and appropriate forum. When faced with the choice between politics and the welfare of children, this particular district will always choose children.
Beyond the selfish stripping of resources from disadvantaged students, we are also disappointed in the lack of engagement and partnership with APS on this issue. We reached out in writing and through intermediaries at the highest levels, seeking to share our position and engage in productive dialogue with our neighbor and long-time collaborators. Those requests went unanswered and ignored. When it comes to the issue of educating our children, all governmental entities have a duty and responsibility to work collaboratively for the mutual benefit and success of all students, regardless of school district.
When one district is allowed to operate in a manner that clearly and unambiguously harms students in another district, all of our children, as well as our communities, will suffer, and the economic prosperity and growth of our region will be endangered. Yet the legislative agenda of APS clearly shows a commitment to a blueprint for future annexations without concern for who is harmed.
The DeKalb County School District soundly rejects this overreach and its implications for the future. We recognize that the desires of the Druid Hills community have been ignored. We face the reality that precious resources will be forcibly taken from our students. And, most importantly, we are dismayed that the promise not to change school district boundaries as part of the Emory annexation was broken.
Dr. Stephen Green
Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

Emory Annexation and DeKalb County Schools
October 16, 2017 – Marshall Orson, DeKalb Schools Board Member, 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. “In previous annexations in this area, the city ordinances were drafted to alter school district boundaries, shifting annexed areas into APS …”

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.”

16 responses to “Atlanta & Atlanta Public Schools Annexing DeKalb

  1. William Johnson

    If any area is annexed into Atlanta, of course, Atlanta public schools should receive all the school tax revenue from that area. It is not fair that the N. Druid Hills neighborhood has been subsidizing the rest of unincorporated Dekalb all these years. Furthermore, Dekalb County School System already spends too much money, and wastes a goodly portion of what it has in the form of too much overpaid staff at the central office, so it would be a good thing if they had to give up some money and be forced to be more frugal.

  2. Did 3 DCSD BOE members miss their own work session today to go speak at the Atlanta City Council meeting?

  3. Yes. Three attended the Atlanta City Council Meeting, but I believe Orson was the only one who spoke at it.

  4. I believe that this is an historic decision that could harm DCSD significantly. Dr. Green states “We recognize that the desires of the Druid Hills community have been ignored.”
    Well guess what. DCSD clearly ignored the desires of the Druid Hills community when it sought Charter Cluster status. Check out the GetSchooled blog from 2014 about the Charter Cluster(, which includes these statements from proponents when they decided to throw in the towel:
    “The DCSD, an institution charged with protecting the best interests of the children, instead protected only its status quo and budget through the basest of gamesmanship and bureaucratic nonsense. The DCSD responded to the petition with obvious disdain evidenced by its written commentary that was internally redundant, inconsistent, and expressly contradicted by the petition and applicable law.
    Shockingly, the DCSD and the Superintendent actively mischaracterized material facts, the law, and statutorily mandated budget calculations to you, the partially-elected and partially-appointed DeKalb County Board of Education. These misrepresentations should be investigated and, if determined by relevant authorities to be appropriate, prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
    Annexation just gives the Druid Hills community another option. They now can weigh the benefits of being in the City of Atlanta, including Atlanta Public Schools. If they desire to flee DeKalb, their desires cannot be ignored, as there is a transparent legal process. Charter Cluster proponents never had a chance.
    The saddest part of this is that during the Charter Cluster initiative, the Druid Hills community embraced the entire Druid Hills attendance zone, which includes several Title 1 (high poverty rate) schools. The affluent and not-affluent were joined together.
    Now the affluent have a way out.

  5. DSW2Contributor

    “The expansion is about money: the change in boundaries impacts just 10 students yet will strip $2.5 million in vital resources from DCSD.”
    When the annexation was discussed on a few episodes on Fox5’s “Georgia Gang” show, Jeff Dickerson quickly pointed out that the annexation only impacted 10 students. He never mentioned the $2.5 million. That makes me think the City of Atlanta must be paying him more than the DCSD used to!

  6. Mike Thurmond was super. of DCSD at the time and if you want to know his politics, read his books. He’s a segregationist. The parents of Druid Hills High School tried to work with DCSD and were treated with contempt. Who cares if the ‘affluent’ have a way out. DCSD should free every white employee on the payroll and let it be what they want, a fully segregated school system.

  7. Dickerson Communications was paid just over $90K annually before Green. Dickerson Communications now gets less than $10K a year.

  8. Mr Jester,
    Why are we paying Dickerson Communications anything? We increased our communications department. If anything, they should have been doing things to raise awareness of the impact of this change.
    Mr. Jester, where will those 10 students now go to school? I admit that I don’t understand the true reason that after all of these years, Emory needs to be annexed into Atlanta. The amount of money that the DCSS will lose is bad. Do we have any recourse?
    Is this a done deal?
    “Houston-Stewart and four other new positions in the communications department have nearly doubled money spent on salaries to more than $800,000, more than half of the entire communications department’s $1.5 million dollar budget proposed for 2017.’

  9. As long as the Superintendent keeps the annual expenditure under $100K, it doesn’t come before the board.
    Done Deal – The school district already sued Atlanta over this … and lost.
    DeKalb County Schools sued Atlanta (DeKalb County School District v. City Of Atlanta 2016CV284278) for annexing homes near Emory University. The annexation, approved by the city last year, took in more than 100 residents on 16.31 acres. County leaders have publicly voiced concerns that Emory’s annexation push could prompt other neighborhoods to petition the city. Here is the Petition For Declarative Judgement on that case.
    The court held a hearing on the case in April and granted a Motion to Dismiss in full a few days later.

  10. is Druid Hills High now going to be in the Atlanta Public School system? If so, where do the Dekalb County, unincorporated Avondale-Rockbridge kids go to high school?

  11. Druid Hills High School was not part of the annexed area.

  12. Aw, it’s no fun being the one screwed over with last-minute, backroom antics, is it, Dr. Green? Or when someone goes back on their word? If DCSD did its job right, no one would be scrambling to leave via annexation or new city schools or any other method.

  13. DSW2Contributor

    “Druid Hills High School was not part of the annexed area” YET!
    If Mary Norwood wins today, I expect Atlanta will annex more of Druid Hills. DCSD may end up being two geographically-separated districts, just like Fulton County schools.

  14. Agreed. I would like to see DeKalb convince people to stay in DeKalb by providing the services that people want and need. I don’t like the approach of forcing families to stay at the point of a gun and a lawsuit.

  15. The point that most postings here are missing is that the Druid Hills community did not choose to be annexed into the City of Atlanta – Emory University sneakily bought adjoining property that touched the City of Atlanta boundaries and that is how the portion of the Druid Hills community (not North Druid Hills) was able to be annexed in.

  16. @ATLNAT, you are correct. The residents adjacent to the Emory property may decide that they want to stay in DeKalb and have their children attend DCSD schools.
    But I wouldn’t say that this is a given. At least 2 reasons that they might want to join City of Atlanta come quickly to mind: the shameful treatment that DCSD gave the Druid Hills Charter Cluster effort just 3 years ago, and the fact that moving to a school system half the size of DCSD immediately doubles one’s voice.
    I would guess that the BOE is concerned about further annexation too, since the BOE Chair and 2 BOE members missed their own DeKalb BOE meeting just to attend the Atlanta City Council meeting where the Emory annexation was approved.