Category Archives: DeKalb County School District

Yea or Nay – Graduation Ceremonies at GWCC

After Sunday we’ll be finished with graduation ceremonies (BTW … Congrats Class of 2019!) How did it go and should we hold graduation ceremonies at the Georgia World Congress Center again next year?

Marlon Walker wrote in the AJC that in October of last year, parents were reeling over having graduation at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) a week after school ended. However, Walker reported, it ended up being Much Ado About Nothing.

Is that right?

Through the class of ’16 various DeKalb high schools used governmental buildings, arenas and churches to hold graduation ceremonies. Many high schools were challenged with the capacity to find and pay for a venue. The school district was also allegedly challenged by the AFL-CIO on the holding of school district graduation ceremonies in religious facilities.

For the class of ’17, DeKalb Schools sought out an equitable solution for graduation ceremonies. For the low-low price of $300K+, they decided that the most cost effective, accessible and equitable solution would be the GWCC.

Here is some of the constructive feedback I have received.

Graduation was scheduled a week after the last day of school. Plenty of parents and students couldn’t make it or had to change Summer plans.

DeKalb Schools charged seniors $35 for these graduation ceremonies. It’s hard to see where all that money went.

Parents paid $15 park or more if it was during an ATL United game.

Students expected part of their $35 to go towards an air conditioned bus. However, many students arrived at their school 4 hours before the ceremony started only to drive in full regalia to the GWCC in a non air conditioned bus.

To quote a parent,

The “best” part was that after the ceremony, we were herded to an outdoor plaza to meet our graduates. After 20 minutes of photos and talking, security personnel that we paid for actually went around and turned on SIRENS and used bullhorns to tell us to leave. They were constantly running the sirens and yelling at us on the bullhorns for the rest of the time. Just super respectful to families. It was mortifying for our out of town guests and humiliating. And the next group had not even STARTED their ceremony, so there was no chance of a conflict.

What are your thoughts about holding graduation at the GWCC?


Graduation Schedule – DeKalb Schools Class of 2019
November 2, 2018 – Currently the school district is planning on having graduation ceremonies in the middle of the Summer. That’s understandably not going over very well with the parents. Here’s the current schedule for 2019 graduation ceremonies.

Class of 2018 Graduation Ceremonies Schedule
November 17, 2017 – All high school graduations will be held during the week of May 21-26, 2018 at the Georgia World Congress Center. This is the second year to have graduation ceremonies at the GWCC. Last year the ceremonies were on time, air conditioned, streamed online with great production value … and it better be for $300K.

My Graduation Ceremony – Open Letter To DCSD
May 10, 2017 – Georgia Wescott’s Open Letter to the DeKalb County School District with her thoughts about the venue selected by the senior administration without input from the local CCHS community.

Class of 2017 Graduation Ceremonies Schedule
April 13, 2017 – Dr. Green created a District Graduation Task Force to begin looking at venues, available dates and costs for specific locations to house district ceremonies.

Graduation Schedule – DeKalb Schools Class of 2017
April 13, 2017 – Dr. Green created a District Graduation Task Force to begin looking at venues, available dates and costs for specific locations to house district ceremonies.

DeKalb Schools ESPLOST

All Graduation Ceremonies At Georgia World Congress Center
October 11, 2016 – All DeKalb County high school graduations will be held during the week of May 22-27, 2017. Here is the school schedule.

Call For Independent Auditor and Ethics Officer

The procurement assessment indicated that ethics and integrity at the school district are practically non existent.

Stan Jester
Board Of Education

As you problably know, the school district really messed up employee salary schedules. At the February board meeting, the board (illegally in my opinion) met behind closed doors in executive session to discuss how the school district found itself in this salary schedule mess.

E-SPLOST projects are way over budget and the school district is running out of funds. In a few weeks the board is having a series of (illegal) private meetings (avoiding open meetings laws) to get an update on E-SPLOST project budgets and discuss options moving forward.

Meeting Invitation:
Board meetings for the purpose to discuss the increased cost estimate for E-SPLOST IV and E-SPLOST V and a few options for a plan of action to address the increased cost estimates. No more than 3 board members per meeting to avoid a quorum.

• Tuesday, March 19, 10:30-12:00 p.m.
• Tuesday, March 19, 1:00-2:30 p.m.
• Wednesday, March 20, 1:30-3:00 p.m.

We can’t operate like this. The school district has proven time and time again that it cannot police itself.

I’m calling for an independent ethics officer and in independent internal auditor. I am also calling for a review of all current contracts and an in-depth fraud investigation by an outside expert.

Ethics Officer
An independent ethics officer serves as the organization’s independent and internal control point for ethics and improprieties, allegations, complaints, and conflicts of interest and provides corporate leadership and advice on corporate governance issues.

The DeKalb Ethics Board was established in its current form in 2016 when a referendum vote overwhelmingly approved of the addition of a full time Ethics Officer. By law, the Ethics Board is completely independent of the DeKalb CEO, Commissioners and any officers or employees of DeKalb County government.

Meeting, Agenda and Minutes link
Audit Reports link
Audit Oversight Committee link

Independent Internal Auditor
An independent internal auditor provides independent, objective, insightful, nonpartisan assessment of the stewardship or performance of policies, programs and operations in promoting efficiency, effectiveness and integrity. They accomplish this through financial audits, performance audits, inquires, investigations and reviews.

The DeKalb County Office of the Independent Internal Officer has produced important audits and provided an important lens into the operations of DeKalb County.

Related Posts

Employee Compensation Update
February 27, 2019 – Last year, Management Advisory Group (MAG) completed a Salary and Compensation Study for the DeKalb County School District. DeKalb Schools is going back to the drawing board for classified staff, everyone not certified. Superintendent Green has reached out to Gwinnett Schools to enlist their help.

Procurement Assessment Indicates Fraud
February 26, 2019 – DeKalb Schools recently completed a cursory assessment of its procurement process. It indicated that ethics and integrity in the procurement process is practically non existent.

Need Input – New Salary Schedules
February 12, 2019 – DeKalb Schools administration is moving fast and furious to correct this issue. I’m trying to get out and vet the documentation as expeditiously as possible.