News & Updates – 2/5/2019

Latest updates on TSA lawsuit, salary schedules and more…

  • TSA
  • Salary Schedules
  • Procurement Audit
  • Clean Bathrooms

TSA – Tax Sheltered Annuity Lawsuit

In 2017, Judge Gregory Adams dismissed the employees’ lawsuit entirely. Plaintiffs appealed. June 1, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims. Appeals court said the Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on liability in their favor. The school district appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Georgia Supreme Court decided to hear this case. It will be assigned to the May 2019 oral argument calendar. I expect to have a decision from the Georgia Supreme Court on this by December. The Court stated they were particularly concerned with the following:

What is the proper test for determining whether a statute or ordinance establishing a retirement plan becomes a part of a government employee’s contract of employment such that later changes may violate the Impairment Clause of the Georgia Constitution? See Ga. Const. of 1983, Art. I, Sec. I, Para. X.

New Salary Schedules

Superintendent Green said it was back to the drawing boards for Phase II of the new salary schedules originally scheduled to be implemented January 1, 2019. A majority of the discussions concerning how we got here were held in executive session yesterday afternoon. I believe those discussions were not protected by executive session. At the time, I expressed my concerns to the board excused myself from what I considered to be an illegal meeting.

There was very little public discussion about it at the board meeting during the HCM report.

Board member Morley thanked Dr. Gregory and the HR department for their work. She also thanked the employees for their patience. Morley went on to talk about the culture of fear at DeKalb Schools and called the White House a plantation.

Diijon DaCosta, DeKalb Schools newest board member, asked the administration what employees can do to appeal the results of the Comp & Class study. Superintendent Green said the district is formalizing an appeals process.

Having excused myself from said illegal executive session meeting, I didn’t know what the plan was. I asked the administration when we can expect resolution on the implementation of the Phase II salary schedules. Superintendent Green said he couldn’t commit to a date.

Since the budget for next year will need to be approved in June, I asked if we would know something by July. Green thought that was likely, but didn’t want to “box the school district in” with a hard date. Green also mentioned that a new salary schedule could come before the board.

Procurement Assessment

I’ve been struggling with the procurement process at the school district since day 1. Last year, the board chair pushed the administration to perform a procurement assessment. In December, the results of the procurement assessment confirmed that integrity and ethics were non existent in the procurement process at the school district. Vendors are cutting employees checks and I suspect numerous contracts steered … starting with the Million Dollar No Bid Contracts for Ex DeKalb Schools Employees

Since the results of the procurement assessment came out, I’ve been pushing for its release to the public. However, the procurement assessment was performed by the school district’s outside legal firm and has been deemed privileged and confidential. As WSB’s Richard Belcher noted I was disturbed by the district’s stance on this.

At the end of this month, the board will have a number of public offsite meetings. At these meetings, the procurement assessment will be on the agenda. The chair, Dr. Michael Erwin, has decided to release the procurement assessment to the public at that time.

Clean Bathrooms

Project CLEAN has worked 22 years to improve the safety, cleanliness and hygiene of public school restrooms and is the national leader in these efforts. Contact Project CLEAN via email at keating.projectlean@gmail.com.

Public school restrooms, especially in middle and high schools, may present the hardest cleaning challenge. Preventing soil, removing dust and grime, effectively disinfecting touch points, encouraging handwashing – all these processes are made harder because of the attitude and behavior some students bring to this public–private space.

So how can school, custodial staff, and students who use — and may abuse — toilets, lavatories, mirrors, and trash cans, among other items, cooperate so the result is a clean, safe, hygienic restroom for pre-teens and adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18? Contact Project CLEAN via email at keating.projectlean@gmail.com.

37 responses to “News & Updates – 2/5/2019

  1. Will we continue with our adjusted pay until a resolution is agreed upon, or we revert back to our beginning of the year pay? Obviously people who got a pay cut need action, but will those of us with $0.02-$2,000.00 increases see those taken away?

  2. I imagine you’ll keep your same pay. I don’t think anybody got a pay cut.

  3. Mr. Jester.

    Thank you for the updates. All three issues are important. All three are very disturbing and/or harmful as regards Dekalb’s teachers and/or public trust.

    Be well. mike p

  4. HR has to post current salary schedule on DCSD website.
    Teachers with 13-19 years of experience have to decide which school district they are going to sign contract with.
    Salary compression is following this group since 2010. Following salary schedule recommendation from July 2018 would give financial break to those who were payed only State Minimum between years 2011 and 2016. It would be thank you token for sticking with DCSS/DCSD.
    Teachers with 13-19 years of experience still did not reach salary level from 2008 for teachers with the same years of experience. Salary increased for new and senior teachers compare to the salary of 2008 school year by 6K to 12K respectively. Teachers with 15 and 16 years of experience make today $1,461 and $1,749 less then teachers in 2008 with the same experience.
    We had exodus of teachers with 5-15 years of experience between 2011 and 2015. HR was trying to retain teachers with first salary schedule correction in January 2017.
    Adapted January schedule will be the reason of EXODUS round II !!!!!
    Teachers with 13-19 years of experience will be on the move.

  5. Hmmm-does Dr.Green realize that due to rhis entire salary debacle, Dekalb may very well lose more than the usual number of staff? We cannot trust the administration of this school system to act with integrity and to treat it’s employees fairly and with respect. Dr. Green doesn’t want to commit to a date-perhaps many employees are not willing to commit to a school district which is not committed to them.

  6. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

    Hi Stan,
    First off, thank you for keeping the staff of DCSD informed. I believe timing is everything. Traditionally, contracts come out in February. We also have a transfer deadline of March 1st. A lot lies in the balance. Well, I know I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am now considering leaving DeKalb County School District.
    Reason #1. No-one knows what formula was used to calculate who got a raise versus who did not.
    #2. With the uncertainty, I no longer trust that the district will do right by me
    #3. must make a decision one way or another soon; to transfer or not to transfer and to sign (my contract) or
    not to sign….that is now the question
    #4. I went to college to earn a doctoral degree, to retire in the best possible way. However, DeKalb County
    does not factor teacher preparedness (level of education) into the equation; tell that to my college loan

  7. Was the procurement assessment presented in an executive session? How long has the BOE known about the report? I’m glad to hear it will be presented to the public. When/where are these off site meetings and what’s the main purpose of them?

    If the executive session covered material not protected by executive session rules, what is the entity we can file a complaint with – the BOE should be held accountable for any illegal actions and the only way to determine if they acted inappropriately would be through an independent investigation but who would handle that?

  8. Legal said the board could not discuss the procurement audit in executive session. The board received the report in December. I thought the chair said the board was going to have an offsite at the end of this month, but I don’t see it on the calendar. State AG is probably the person to decide if it was an illegal meeting or not.

  9. Dear Stan
    Thank you again for all of your hard work. I personally feel that you providing a venue for people to post their feelings encouraged the district administration to admit that there was a problem.
    DeKalb Schools Work to Get It Right
    There is an article in the AJC concerning the salary issue. Please not the quote that it may take “millions” to fix this. It is hard to understand with essentially 7 HR Offices , one for each Region, an HR Department, a Finance Dept and all our many highly paid leaders, that DeKalb has to hire an outside company to figure out the right amount to pay its educators. But, I would be interested in knowing how many upper level administrators received a raise that was computed correctly?

    https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/dekalb-schools-working-get-right-after-flawed-salary-roll-out/VTbIgdzV989gXtNABU7p7I/

    “School officials say it may cost the DeKalb County school district millions to fix a botched salary schedule rolled out last week that left some teachers with only a 2-cent raise when the schedule took effect.’

  10. Click your heels, Bye Dr. Green

    https://youtu.be/QTtBBJOAnHA
    Dr. Green is focused on his own next move and not the affairs of the district. He is entertaining the Leadership Atlanta folks like APS Superintendent and Corporate CEOs to get noticed as a Thought Leader. Dr. Green only cares about himself and the ones in bed with him getting what they can. The AJC needs to stay with this story. Power, lies, sex and money are in DCSD.

  11. Angela D King

    Stan, thank you again for keeping us in the loop. Two things I needed to talk about. First, how is the lawsuit regarding our retirement going. Second as a seasoned paraprofessional I was told I by HR several times I have capped put and will not get another raise. Us that right

  12. Thank you Stan for your service

  13. dekalbteacher

    Stan,
    Can you let us know what, if anything, board members have to do with parents’ and teachers’ emails of concerns?

    People are talking about contacting the board, but I’m not sure what such emails do.

  14. Hello Angela.

    Retirement lawsuit … that’s the TSA case. The Georgia Supreme Court has decided to hear it. I expect their decision by December.

    Capped out? How many years do you have?

  15. DeKalbTeacher, I always think it is a good idea to reach out to your locally elected officials. Be sure to tell them exactly what you want.

  16. DSW2Contributor

    The 8-year old killed in a weekend Clayton County car accident was a student in DCSD Region 2:
    https://www.ajc.com/news/local/georgia-grandfather-girls-killed-crash/tfkR5P2jNfOpj1Et9LAGyK/

    The 6-year old who drowned in Lithonia was a student at Flat Rock Elementary:
    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/dekalb-county/tragic-details-emerge-about-6-year-old-s-drowning-in-dekalb-county/913106603

    Please consider giving to their families gofundmes, if you are able, and pray for their families, their classmates, and for the paras, staff, teachers and counselors at their schools. Three different DCSD schools are mourning the loss of students who have passed in the last ten days.

  17. About the video link posted by Click your heels, Bye Dr. Green,…..

    It’s an 8 minute video by DCSD about Leadership Atlanta visiting the Cedar Grove cluster schools. The first Leadership Atlanta comment is by someone who works for the District’s law firm, Nelson Mullins.

    After that we hear lots of praise for the great things happening there, including one student singing the praises of going to a small high school.

    It’s good that Cedar Grove High School is getting some good press. But let’s look at the data. That shows a lack of academic achievement at Cedar Grove High School.

    While the graduation rate is 82.7%, the percent of graduates who do NOT need remediation at Georgia technical and 4-year colleges is only 17%.

    The literacy rate is 43%. Only 7% of students score at “College Readiness” levels on SAT, ACT, Advanced Placement tests.

    From the video, clearly there are personable, confident students at Cedar Grove High School. But the scores indicate that academic achievement is lagging.

    Somehow we have to give those personable, confident students–and the many more who are struggling and don’t have that confidence–a strong academic foundation. Finding out in college how much they didn’t learn in high school can be a real shock. We owe it to them to give them a better academic foundation.

  18. Epic Failure
    All you have to do is look at the passing rate for AP exams to see the EPIC FAILURE in Academics in South DeKalb. At Cedar Grove HS only 6% of the students received a 3 or higher on their AP exams the last time I looked.

  19. I’m confused: legal said the BOE couldn’t discuss the procurement doc in executive session even though it sounds like there is potentially criminal activity (a legal matter) but it’s ok to discuss the HR debacle in executive? And a BOE member said they needed to air grievances privately and thought that was also covered by executive session? These recent “decisions” make no sense.

  20. escapee from Dekalb

    AB– bless your heart– I wish Stan’s posts had a like button….The entire upper level of management need to go NOW! Let the State BOE know that things are going on in Dekalb…

  21. ParentTeacher

    I’ll sign my contract, but I will be looking around and keeping my options open. It’s a shame. As much as I think Dr. Green needs to go, I hate to think that this mess will be his legacy, left for someone else to clean up. Who would want that job??

  22. Parent Teacher,

    Until someone actually cleans up DCSD it will continue to be a mess. Dr. Green has known Human Capital Management has “challenges” since he first got here. Yet, he has done nothing to improve it. He has known special education fails students and has done nothing to address that. He knows the finance department doesn’t follow the GaDOE rules for accounting and hasn’t required them to. He has known since before he got here that schools are in disrepair, but hasn’t given the BOE a budget to address them. He has known since he got here that DCSD doesn’t have enough substitutes, but he has ignored the issue.

    Superintendent Green has put “lipstick on the pig,” but the infrastructure of the school district is still a mess. I can put a new paint job on my 1986 Volvo 240, but it still won’t be a reliable car. That is to say, Dr. Green has brought about some improvements, but failed to remember Maslow’s pyramid. Students can have Chromebooks, but if there is no teacher for their class, what good do Chromebooks do?

  23. @ParentTeacher – So DCSD has taking the rule out for charging you $750 for breaking your contract? If so, it must be nice. Not fair that DCSD will do it for some and not when others broke their contract.

    Also, Stan – how many student teachers do we have in DCSD right now? What colleges are represented by these student teachers? There are several colleges in Georgia that will not let their student teachers teach in DCSD. If your college does not support the county school system, why would a graduate look for a job in DeKalb? Some will come because of the proximity to downtown.

  24. Stan,
    Where can we find the info you reported about TSA class action moving forward? It is not updated on Roy Barnes website.
    Thank you.

  25. ParentTeacher

    @Lynn King-I’m sure they would charge the $750 if anyone breaks their contract, but we have until June 30, without penalty.

  26. @ParentTeacher not when I left and that was four years ago. I broke my contract the Friday school was out, way before the 6/30 Georgia date. Stan can vouch for that. I wouldn’t trust the county They seem to above GA law. I just finally had to suck up the $750 loss.

  27. It would be interesting to see how quickly the salary issue would be remedied if EVERY contracted position REFUSED to sign a contract. If teachers can’t strike in GA (as other states are currently doing), would they not have leverage if DCSD found themselves with NO contracted teachers?

  28. I went to the State of the District address at PCMS and would like to know your thoughts on the value of the “microcabinets” each “Region Superintendent” gets.

  29. The idea is that each region operates as an independent district and that all the decisions don’t have to go to the superintendent. It doesn’t work that way all the time, but regionals work more now and make more decisions than they ever have. It’s hard to say if the juice is worth the squeeze.

  30. Thirty Years Dedicated

    How many more times does Dr. Green get to get it Wrong before DCSD gets rid of him and his administration???? The buck stops with him….and he’s paying his team big bucks to continue to destroy DCSD. He should have enough PR videos to move on now. We’re running out of bucks!

  31. dekalbteacher

    Stan,
    What are the actual operations of these regions as independent organizations? How are they evaluated?

    The curriculum, the lesson plans, the tests, etc… are from the district, not differentiated for different regions with more ESL or gifted or high or low Milestone scores, etc…
    The sub fair was for Dekalb County Schools, not a specific region. The sub issue is known as a district thing, not a region problem.
    Facilities issues still go through the district, not a specific region.
    Professional development is at the district level.
    Looking at the recent pay mess-up, I’d love to know how the seven HR managers, etc.. are involved in the overhaul of HR.
    The AJC stories we read @ hiring problems never mention a specific region.

    Ideas and decisions seem hard to measure. Seems like another way to create more jobs more than anything else.

  32. If dekalbteacher is correct, that “curriculum, the lesson plans, the tests, etc.” are from the district, not differentiated for different regions with more ESL or gifted or high or low Milestones scores” is correct, then we have a big problem.

    Sounds like the Regional Superintendents are just policemen looking for “gotchas” if a school dares to differ from the District’s curriculum or pacing or whatever, rather than champions trying to help their small group of schools do what’s best. If they won’t or can’t allow a school or a region to differentiate based on their particular population then what’s the point?

    Just this week a Regional Superintendent gave a cluster presentation that emphasized that schools must follow the District’s pacing and curriculum. This is just for a single cluster! No discussion of tailoring these things based on all of the “data” that she presented.

    The District has flexibility through being a Strategic Waiver School System. Yet the waivers seem to be based on what is good for the Central Office rather than what is good for students or teachers.

  33. dekalbteacher

    Anonymous,

    You’d be told that Dekalb provides much differentiation in the daily lessons with teachers.
    You’d also be told that teachers are analyzing that data.

    One couldn’t be faulted for assuming that the district forgets that it has different regional cabinets and a strategic waiver. What else explains the standardized things you describe and the many district-wide problems?

    I think Dekalb does excel in one area, differentiating job responsibilities and pay. Just look at the salaries, the daily work, and the teachers who get “professional learning” squeezed in during the teaching day and those real “professionals” that attend all day and multi-day workshops and conferences.

  34. Dr. Green addresses the compensation issue in a news flash today.

  35. I read Dr. Green’s letter. Let me be clear, if Dr. Green values his teachers and staff he will make this pay debacle a priority and fix it immediately. The schools can not run without teachers. If teachers don’t sign their contracts there is a problem. Get it done.

  36. FormerDekalbTeacher

    @ Lynn King–
    I signed my contract last year and then broke it in early May to leave for another district. I wasn’t charged a fee to get the hell out of dodge. I would suggest to those that are on the fence to sign your contract and then find a safe place to land before June 1. Also, document everything you do with HCM when breaking your contract—there were two people in that whole department that were helpful– the rest ignored emails, voicemails, and documents sent in to verify experience for my new district.

  37. *TRS BILL IN COMMITTEE!!!!!***
    Proposed changes in TRS
    TRAGIC is a group that shares information about insurance and retirement of educators and state employees.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/TRAGIC4GEORGIA/permalink/1219809608172143/

    A bill changing the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia (TRS) has been proposed, and will be brought up in committee THIS Tuesday, February 12 at 2:00 pm in room 515 of the Coverdale Legislative Office Building (CLOB).

    House Bill 109 (HB 109), proposed by Rep. Tommy Benton (a retired teacher), would affect teachers and other TRS-eligible staff hired on or after July 1, 2019. These are the proposed changes, along with TRAGIC’s reactions to the changes.

    – Changes the benefits calculation formula from the average of two highest years of salary to five years, and not allowing more than 2 raises in that time period.

    TRAGIC: The average of five years does not seem to be too troubling. It would prevent someone from jumping into a job for 2-3 years just to collect the higher pension. We do have an issue with the no more than 2 raises in that period. Consider someone who: a) gains a higher degree in the hopes of an admin position, b) gets that admin position, c) either moves up the salary chart or gets a higher admin position, all within five years. How would that salary be calculated?

    – Increases mandatory TRS employee contributions to a range of 6-10% (up from existing statutory requirement of 5-6%).

    TRAGIC: This proposal is the most troubling. The range now is 5-6%: it has never been lowered once it hit 6%. If the range is 6-10%, you can bet teachers will be paying 10%. It would also create a two-tiered system of teachers: those on the old plan would be paying 6%, while those on the new plan could be paying as much as 10%.

    – Eliminates the use of any unused sick leave toward retirement credit.

    TRAGIC: Counties are already facing substitute shortages. This plan might save the state a tiny fraction of money on one hand, but cost districts a significant amount on the other.

    – Ends the right to retire in advance of the start of the school year if you achieve 30 years of service by Dec. 31 of that school year.

    TRAGIC: This proposal doesn’t seem to affect a significant amount of retirees to make any difference in the solvency of TRS, but it could have a dramatic impact on a teacher affected by the policy.

    – Prevents retirees from drawing any benefits until age 60, even if the retiree has completed 30 years of service.

    TRAGIC: This proposal basically tells any young person entering the teaching profession that they will need to teach 35 – 38 years before being able to draw retirement. With a salary schedule that ends raises around year 25, this proposal could be extremely detrimental to retention of quality teachers, as someone could work for over 10 years without a salary increase before they could draw pension benefits.

    These proposed changes would only affect new hires, and ALL current TRS members would be grandfathered in under the old plan. Why would these changes matter to you?

    First, any change to TRS opens the door for future changes that could affect current TRS members. More importantly, TRAGIC and other education organizations feel that these proposed changes would negatively impact new employee recruitment and retention as it creates a second-tier of teachers that will end up paying more for less benefit. We also feel that these proposed changes may not accomplish their stated goal of protecting TRS in the future. There has been no study of the effectiveness of these proposals.
    It is imperative that we send as many people as possible to this meeting on Tuesday! These hard questions need to be asked, and our legislators need to see that we ALL have a sincere interest in protecting TRS for ourselves, and for future generations of educators.

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