DeKalb Charter System Update

According to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-81.3, by June 30, 2015 each local school system must choose to operate as one of the following:

  • Investing in Educational Excellence School System (IE2)
  • Charter System
  • Status Quo School System
  • Strategic School System
  • System of Charter Schools

DeKalb Schools Region 2 Superintendent Trenton Arnold was tasked with putting the petition together to approach the state Board of Education.
Trenton Arnold responds to some questions I had regarding this state law.
Question:  What is the status of DeKalb Schools’ Flexibility Decision?
O.C.G.A. § 20-2-84.3 states that “[n]o later than June 30, 2015, each local school system shall notify the [Department of Education] of its intention to request increased flexibility pursuant to this article or shall comply with subsection (b) of Code Section 20-2-80.”
O.C.G.A. §20-2-80 subsection (b) then states that “a local school system may elect not to request increased flexibility in exchange for increased accountability and defined consequences and opt to remain under current laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures….”
What is required by this law is that each district is to notify the Georgia Department of Education of the intent to seek flexibility.  This is done through a submitted Letter of Intent which the DeKalb County School District initially submitted in April 2014, and then resubmitted a revised Letter of Intent in April 2015.  Both of these letters met the annual May 1 submission deadline for Letters of Intent from the Georgia Department of Education.
The reason for the refiling was that the initial letter stated that the first operational year as a charter district would be the 2015-2016 school year; however, at the October 2014 DeKalb BOE meeting, the administration recommended delaying the start year for one full school year to allow for additional time for community input on the charter petition.  Since the initial submission, the Georgia Department of Education has continuously recognized that DeKalb intends to become a charter system, and it has produced documents to that effect.  At last report, there are forty districts in the state that have not complied with the legal mandate to submit their flexibility intentions before June 30, 2015.  It is often mistakenly believed that districts must become operational by June 30, 2015, or that they must submit a petition by June 30, 2015, but as noted above, the only legal requirement is to submit the Letter of Intent, and DeKalb has met that obligation.
Question:  What is the status on implementing that choice?
At the October 2014 Board meeting, the administration recommended that the DeKalb County Board of Education adopt the charter petition but allow for additional revisions to the petition to advance the start year to the
2016-2017 school year. This recommendation will also and more importantly allow the district to return to internal and external stakeholders to gather additional information and input, and submit the petition to the Georgia Department of Education no later than November 1, 2015, which is the required petition submission date for district’s to become operational at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The Board tabled the vote in October.

[Update Posted on 07/11/2015]
Dr. R. Stephen Green
CEO & Superintendent
DeKalb County School Distric
sent via email
The DeKalb County School District is approaching the GA DOE’s deadline of November 1, 2015, for submission of the district’s charter petition application that would allow DeKalb to begin operating as a charter district at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Consequentially, without a called meet-ing, this requires that the petition be presented to the Board at their October 5, 2015, meeting as a reso-lution for adoption. To that end, the Superintendent and administrative staff will establish meeting dates with Board members to review the flexibility options and the current path that the district has chosen. At the direction of the Superintendent, the district’s administrative staff is also establishing plans to seek out further stakeholder input on the drafted petition through additional community engagement sessions in each of the five regions. These engagement sessions will focus primarily on the local school governance elements required of a charter system as well as the processes associated with approving waivers requested by individual schools; however, other topics and concerns will also be welcomed as they will allow the district the opportunity to improve and finalize the petition prior to presentation to the Board for adoption.

Related Documents
October 2014 Work Session – Trenton Arnold presented an update on the school flexibility option and DeKalb Schools.
eboard link icon  10/08/2014 – Board Meeting – School Flexibility Option Update
.pdf link icon Charter Petition Update
October 2014 Business Meeting – Administration recommended the board pass a resolution to submit a charter petition application to the Georgia Department of Education in order to pursue charter district status with the State Board of Education. The board decided to table this decision.
eboard link icon  10/08/2014 – Board Business Meeting – Adoption of the resolution approving the DeKalb County School District’s Charter System Petition
.pdf link icon Charter District Application

3 responses to “DeKalb Charter System Update

  1. Kirk Lunde

    What additional input has the administration gathered in the nearly eight months since the October BOE meeting?
    I have written Mr. Arnold and Superintendent Thurmond asking for more community meetings, but they have declined to have any. Have they been conducting surveys or focus groups? Has the BOE gotten any results of additional community input from the administration?
    This seems to be to be another example of this administration saying one thing and not following through with what they say.
    Another item on that long list is the strategic plan. What is the status of the district’s strategic plan? The community was promised accountability measures would be in the strategic plan. Dr. Smith promised the teacher retention strategies would be in the strategic plan.
    It seems as though this administration refuses to write down any measures of accountability. That needs to change before communities begin to trust the friends and family who run the district.

  2. Stan Jester

    Charter System – I believe we are waiting on DOE guidance more than anything.
    Strategic Plan –

  3. Stan,
    Thanks for the link to the strategic plan web page. That page contains no current information. It has not been updated in a year.
    The plan is not posted there, nor on eboard.