DeKalb County Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment

Parsons & MGT of America provided DeKalb Schools with the questionable facilities condition reports which were used to determine the capital projects list in the current SPLOST IV. I have consulted with credible sources and they indicated to me that they believed the data previously produced by MGT was manipulated to produce a particular outcome. This past February, Parsons & MGT of America were contracted again for the same service.  Their data and report to the DCSD and the BOE will drive the SPLOST V projects slated to start in 2018.
Kirk Lunde is a parent and an advocate for children. Mr. Lunde asked me to share this open letter he wrote to Sam Mandola at Parsons, a capital project management firm.
———— Original Message ————

From: Kirk Lunde
Subject: DeKalb County Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment
Mr. Mandola,
I am a resident of DeKalb County, GA whose sons were in an elementary school which was incorrectly identified as having two gyms the last time Parsons & MGT of America assessed the facilities of the DeKalb County School District, DCSD. When Mr. Wilkins, DeKalb’s former COO, contacted MGT of America regarding the incorrect number of classrooms at my sons’ elementary school, Mr. Humble replied, “Our process for determining instructional capacity included a definition of what a classroom is and a detail review of the inventory of space with the principal at each school.”
When you compare the classroom count for Midvale Elementary previously done by MGT of America in 2012, 41 classrooms, to the classroom count for Midvale Elementary done by DCSD employees in 2013, 32 classrooms, the magnitude of the error becomes obvious. In fact, the errors in the work performed by MGT of America were so egregious, the DCSD planning department had to redo the classroom count at every school in the district. A comparison of the two reports shows more than 80% of the schools have different numbers of classrooms and different building capacities.
That is not what I want to speak to you about.
The tools used in Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment (FEAA) currently being done for DCSD by Parsons are not posted on the S.P.A.C.E.S. page of the district’s website. Based on the absence of any inclusion of space considerations for special education in the previous Facility Condition Assessments prepared by Parsons, I assume the current FEAA will not address special education. I may be wrong.
For two years, I tried to get the DCSD facilities department to assess the needs of students with disabilities for physical space. They refuse to do so.
I am attaching a document I presented to the SPLOST IV oversight committee which includes a survey for school personnel to identify the space needs of students with disabilities and itinerate employees. It was updated this morning to include a link to GaDOE Rule 160-4-7-.14 which reads, in part:

Children, with an IEP designating the service location for the delivery of goals and objectives to be the regular classroom environment , shall be reported in their special education program category if instruction is provided in a :
A. Team/Collaborative Model; or
B. Consultative Model .

This is relevant because those models of instruction are also known as “inclusion.” These are general education classrooms which include students with disabilities. Earlier in the text of Rule 160-4-7-.14 it states:

(d) The LEA shall provide a classroom of suitable size in a distraction-free area, as required by the type of program or services to be established, with appropriate furniture, materials, supplies and equipment to meet the needs of the class or individual children to be served. GaDOE has established this policy as a safeguard to prevent placing children with disabilities in classrooms that are too small, have visual or auditory distractions or do not have items necessary to provide appropriate instruction.
(e) Thirty-eight square feet shall be provided for each child in the class with a variance of 10 percent depending upon the total number of personnel in the class at any time, the type of children and class, the kind and amount of furniture and equipment required and the necessity for storage capabilities

Adhering to this rule means general education classrooms are to limit the number of students during segments which include students with disabilities and instruction is provided with one of the three models listed.
Rule 160-4-7-.14 will affect the building capacity calculation. It seems to me this is relevant to the FEAA being conducted for DeKalb County Schools.
The FEAA needs to include an assessment of the physical space needs of students with disabilities to identify where small group instruction and testing takes place. I am writing to you to ask if that is part of the FEAA. If it is not, what steps can be taken to add it?
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I plan to address the Board of Education regarding this issue on July 13.
Kirk Lunde

10 responses to “DeKalb County Facility Educational Adequacy Assessment

  1. Kirk Lunde

    Thank you Stan.
    To see the previous Facilities Condition Assessments prepared by Parsons and MGT of America, click here:
    This page was recently taken down from the school district’s website.
    Another example of the poor quality of their work is the Henderson Middle School FCA has nine pages devoted to the softball dugouts and fields, but failed to mention the locker rooms and showers which have so many safety issues the BOE recently voted to spend one million dollars to renovate them. How do you miss a million dollars worth of needed work?
    Stan, can you ask the IT department to put the Vision 2020 Facility Condition Assessment Reports back on the district’s website so people can see what their school’s assessment was in 2011? Thanks.

  2. Well, I’ll ask the obvious question. Why are we using this firm again? If the work done was so poor, why didn’t we reach out to others to bid on the work? Do we ever get more than one company to bid on work? Maybe that is the problem. Maybe we need an independent review of our bidding processes.

  3. Stan Jester

    Here’s the Bid Tabulation for the 8 companies that bid on the work. The administration says Parsons is “the most responsible and responsive firm whose proposal best meets the requirements and criteria set forth in the RFP documents”. I voted ‘no’.
    If you take a look at the 10-Year Facility Master Plan, capacity and enrollment are not considered when determining SPLOST IV projects. That is why numerous schools in South DeKalb are at less than 50% capacity and are getting new schools. Page 53 & 54 on the Facility Assessment Report are the various scores Carey Reynolds received. Carey Renolds will have almost 30 trailers starting the FY2016 school year – 2014 Dist 1 ES Enrollment & Capacity
    10 Year Master Plan
    Carey Reynolds – Facility Assessment
    When the voters approved SPLOST IV, the list of projects was set in stone. On a side note, Nancy voted ‘no’ on this list of SPLOST IV projects.

  4. Kirk Lunde

    The SPLOST IV Citizens’ Oversight Committee has made a recommendation that the district track issues with vendors’ work and include them in the scoring of future projects. If there are quality problems, that vendor would get negative points on future bids.
    The facilities department refuses. No one has ever explained why to me.

  5. Dekalb Inside Out

    The SPLOST IV Oversight Committee is “Oversight” in name only. It is strictly an advisory board to the superintendent and provides no actual “Oversight” what-so-ever.
    Oversight Committee By Laws:
    The Committee is an advisory body to the Superintendent in support of the Superintendent’s vision for the District. The purpose of the Committee is to review all SPLOST-funded capital improvement expenditures of the District to confirm they are generally consistent with the Project List, and to report to DeKalb County, Georgia, residents on how SPLOST funds are being and have been spent.
    § 2.1 Duties
    The duties of the Committee are to:
    • Make inquiries of the District that are deemed reasonable by the Committee regarding the activities of the District as they relate to SPLOST expenditures;
    • Make recommendations to the Superintendent regarding SPLOST expenditures or the operation of the Committee;
    • Review the findings of any and all internal or external audits related to SPLOST expenditures;
    • Publish semi-annual reports on the Committee’s activities, including its observations on how SPLOST funds are being spent and have been spent. Copies of this report shall be made widely available to the public at large through the publication on the District’s website.

  6. Another comment

    The big problem comes from Dekalbs preference to hire its Facility manager’s aka its Facility Manager’s based on the major criteria being race and the darkening of their skin color as Mr. CEO declared in 2000 when he took over from the great Dekalb Leader Leanne Levitan in 2000. From my past experience of 20 years in high ranking Facilities Management positions, an top Facilities Manager must be a big thinker and capable of looking at the big picture. This usually requires someone who has at least a Masters Degree and Broad experience. Pat Reid/ Pat Pope was marginally qualified. In one deposition. I will summarize that Crawford Lewis stated that Pat Reid had an Engineering degree in Construction Engineering Mgmt form Purdue University at the calumet Campus in the Early 1980’s. That set off red ,flags, and should have set off red flags in any industry headhunter. In the early 1980’sm even in 83 and later. Purdue university only offered the professional degree B..S. In Civil Engineering with a Designation in Construction Engineering in Management at the Main Campus at West Layfatette. Now Purdue also had what engineers referred to as the Baby degree for engineering students who could not hack Engineering 101 freshman year or Calculus 101 they were removed from engineering and placed in the technology school. They received degrees In Construction technologies, but it was not engineering. I worked for one company and they hired a guy with that degree, I kept my mouth shut. A couple of months later, the boss said he is not on pair with you and the othe Purdue engineer. I replied he doesn’t have a Purdue engineering degree. You hired him, I thought you knew that it was not my place to tell you. I also had a Graduate degree which was 1/2 of a MBA combined with additional engineering Management Classes. I took engineering Management classes down with Forscom in DC at Chrystall Station. Through out my career I took at least two continuing education classes with my piers in Facilities Management.
    It was very obvious to me that Pat Reid/ Pope lied about her Resume from Purdue, she was not an Engineer. I was their at the time she was not. Engineering was only taught at W. Layfatette with some distance learning classes at Indianapolis ( I was the TA so I know who was in the class) . You learn to think and solve long term problems in engineering school. A technology degree does not make you that.
    The follow on person, I have never herd of him in the facilities community. It is a tight night community. Then they promoted a teacher with a Law degree to manage contracts of construction projects. She has blown the whistle on them wanting to change the facts. This only demonstrates that Dekalb is only interested in a friends and Family. You must have qualified Engineers and Architects. pulling them out of the Minority firms who have been the 51% partners does not work, because it is a well know fact that it is a scam the white minority partners 49% have done all the work.
    That’s your problem in a nut shell Kurt.

  7. Kirk Lunde

    To clarify, Mr. Mandola is an employee of Parsons.
    I found his name and email on the Facilities Condition Assessment questionnaire found here.
    The email was also sent to the BOE and the Superintendent.
    I sent a similar email to the BOE before they voted to hire Parsons and MGT of America. Stan may have been the only one who read it.

  8. FactChecker

    DeKalb County Schools whistleblower demands job back
    Jobita Moore (Senior WSB-TV Anchor)
    A fired DeKalb County School employee contends that she lost her job because she repeatedly tried to blow the whistle on irregularities involving construction contracts. She tells investigative reporter, Richard Belcher, she warned senior officials including the superintendent.
    Richard Belcher (WSB Investigative Reporter)
    Millini Matheny filed suit against the district today claiming the dismisal last month violates the state’s whistle blower protection law. Metheny told me she witnessed and complained about the back dating of contracts in an effort to make illegal changes in contract records.
    A veteran teacher and counselor, Millini Matheny, began work last year as a contract compliance officer helping to oversee DeKalb’s nearly $200 million dollars in school construction. She says she quickly found that many contracts and change orders were more than a year old and 29 of them couldn’t be found.
    Millini Matheny (DCSD Contract Compliance Specialist)
    The back dating of contracts and amendments. There were documents that were missing.
    Richard Belcher
    Last month Millini said a contractor was threatening legal action because he hadn’t been paid for a year old change order when out of the blue, the superintendent, Michael Thurmond’s secretary called to say the contract records had mysteriously dissappeared.
    Millini Matheny
    My database and her database are the only two databases that would have shown that we did in fact receive that particular change order.
    Richard Belcher
    Millini says that Chief Operations Officer, Joshua Williams, ordered her to give him access to her password protected contract file so he can make changes which Matheny says are illegal.
    Millini Matheny
    I needed to go to my office and sit down and give him what he asked for. Because the superintendent had given him an assignment or he would turn me into the Superintendent for insubordination.
    Richard Belcher
    Matheny said she detailed her concerns in a letter to the district’s chief legal officer, sent a copy to Superintendent Thurmond. Days later she was fired for insubordiation.
    Julie Oionen (Matheny’s Attorney)
    The district needs to do the right thing and reinstate Ms. Matheny. The tax payers of DeKalb County and as Ms. Matheny’s attorney, our lawfirm demands that the district do the right thing.
    Richard Belcher
    We sent the DeKalb County School District a copy of Matheny’s suit today. The district has not responded. This is not the first such charges against DeKalb. The district’s former Chief Operating Officer and an architect are now in prison for convictions related to construction contracts.

  9. FactChecker

    Letter to the school district’s chief legal officer:
    From: Millini Matheny
    To Whom It May Concern:
    I am requesting protection against retaliation.
    At the time that Mr. Joshua Williams, Chief Operating Officer, asked me to send him my contract log in a raw, Excel format so that it could be edited, I believed that I would be violating a law, rule, or regulation that protects against fraud. Under the O.C.G.A 45-1-4, the Georgia Whistler Blower Act, I believed that allowing anyone to edit the only tracking log of SPLOST (tax funded Capital Construction projects) related contracts, change orders, amendments could constitute fraud of state programs and operations. My reasonable belief that this would be illegal to edit the log is directly based on the history of fraud that has occurred some time ago in the Operations Division.
    [ … letter continues …]

  10. FactChecker

    Authorization of Settlement
    Agreement between Millini Mathney and DeKalb County School District
    – According to the January Meeting Minutes, the board authorized a settlement with Matheny. COO Josh Williams remains with the district.
    Millini said that Chief Operations Officer, Joshua Williams, ordered her to give him access to her password protected contract file so he can make changes which Matheny said were illegal.