Cross Keys HS & Sequoyah MS – Secondary Schools Study Position

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

Here’s a News Flash – Doraville doesn’t want their own cluster.  Doraville and the Cross Keys Cluster community want to go to Dunwoody MS/HS, Chamblee MS/HS and what is shaping up to be Brookhaven HS (either rebrand CKHS or build a new one).
Given the history of ghetto-ization, their rationale is understandably motivated by economic diversity.
Cross Keys HS Sequoyah MS council received input from various people and organizations including students, parents, Kim Gokce and the Latin American Association and Center For Pan Asian Community Services.  The representatives from Cross Keys HS and Sequoyah MS support …
Option B – with the following key points

• A new HS with common areas, such as the cafeteria, auditorium, gymnasium, to support 2,800+ students; the initial site plan could support 2200-2400 students.
• A new MS to support 1800 students.
• Both new schools utilizing the existing properties at the Briarcliff and current Cross Keys HS locations; the final determination of which location houses which school to be determined at the discretion of DCSD
Supporting Rationale
• Option B as modified provides the most seats in the least amount of time with the least amount of money and will benefit the highest number of students in both Regions 1 and 2.
• Options A and C require additional land purchase(s) and funding to be secured before construction can begin. Neither variable is guaranteed; a modified Option B can begin immediately. We are not willing to wait or gamble on uncertainties.
• If additional money is available, it should be used to remodel other schools in the Cross Keys cluster. Many of them have been completely neglected in previous SPLOST allocations; they are in a state of disrepair and are unable to accommodate students in an equitable way.
• Options A and C create a fourth cluster that would continue the segregation of low-income and minority students.

  • Based on current and projected housing populations and patterns, it is not possible to have a fair and equitable feeder pattern that creates a diverse school of mixed ethnicity and income levels without any one population traveling unacceptable distances.
  • A modified option B helps ensure the past segregation and inequities do not continue.

• Option B with a more centrally located HS is better positioned for flexibility and adaptability of use beyond what current planning models can predict. Options A and C create a large new HS at the northern periphery of the County, making it vulnerable to underutilization as populations and housing patterns change over time.
• Bigger high schools provide more academic opportunities (e.g. additional AP classes, an IB program, and/or a language-immersion program) and greater athletic opportunities that will help close the current gap in Title IX athletic offerings for the Cross Keys cluster.
Important Points
Economically diverse schools provide all students with important opportunities and exposures that go beyond academics.

  • Economically diverse schools provide all students with important opportunities and exposures that go beyond academics.
  • Communicating and collaborating with people who are different from you and learning how to handle new situations are two of the most critical life and work skills needed to succeed in the 21st century; students from both ends of the spectrum benefit when they interact with each other.
  • Underprivileged students become exposed to a world that previously may have been unknown or seemed unattainable to them. Through friendships and activities outside of school, they make connections, learn skills and gain motivation that will help them pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
  • Students whose birth circumstances afforded them more advantages and opportunities are able to develop a better sense of understanding, compassion and appreciation that will help them grow into well-rounded, happier adults.

Children are not Title 1; schools are Title 1.

  • Title 1 resources are not allocated to individual students; if they leave a school, the money does not follow them.
  • Title 1 resources are allocated to schools that are unable to generate additional PTA, foundation or other community funding mechanisms.
  • All schools provide support for students who are behind or who have challenges, regardless of Title 1 status.

Additionally, we recognize that current political proposals might affect the Briarcliff property, such as the potential annexation of Emory University and surrounding neighborhoods. We recommend that DCSD be strategic in its decision to place either a high school or middle school at this location.
We greatly appreciate the DSCD taking the necessary steps to address the severe overcrowding and inequities that have existed in our cluster for way too long. We are thankful for the opportunity to provide feedback and we look forward to working together as solutions are implemented.
Cross Keys HS School Council
Sequoyah MS School Council
Please note, our position is based on the following input received from our community: 2 public meetings with the Latin American Association and Center For Pan Asian Community Services, along with numerous informal dialogues with the Northwoods Area Neighborhood Association, the Cross Keys Parent Center, the Cross Keys Foundation, and the general student and parent population from the Cross Keys cluster.

16 responses to “Cross Keys HS & Sequoyah MS – Secondary Schools Study Position

  1. Yep. That’s exactly what needs to happen. This community has been segregated for far too long. It’s time to truly integrate. If these attendance lines drew around an African-American community you can be there would be outrage. Check out a post Kim wrote a very long time ago at the original DSW blog. It’s glaringly isolating for the Latin American community. Not much has changed.

  2. Cere, If you will allow me to play Devil’s Advocate. And, Rebekah Morris, if you will allow me to use your quotes and statistics
    It could be argued that we do have these lines around the African American community.
    Cere, you mentioned, ” This community has been segregated for far too long. It’s time to truly integrate.” Many people like Morris argue that North DeKalb is already quite diverse saying, “In the southern part of the county, we have schools that are over 98% Black, while in the northern part of the county, we have “diversity.”” Here are some of Morris’ demographics
    South DeKalb

    Towers HS Demographics

    McNair HS Demographics
    North DeKalb

    Lakeside HS Demographics

    Dunwoody HS Demographics
    There are no pretty graphic for Cross Keys HS or Chamblee HS
    Cross Keys HS Demographics:
    Asian: 8%
    Black: 12%
    Hispanic: 78%
    White: 1%
    If desegregation is the goal, we are barking up the wrong tree in the wrong side of the county.

  3. Stuffed ballots

    Amen! This is about overcrowding and not diversity. If you want diversity, bring back busing. We are trying solve a seats issue. Morris, Cere, and Gokce are trying to solve the wrong problem .

  4. Well that cuts to the point … there is nothing in the facilities feasibility study that says to address racial or economic diversity.

  5. I think there is a difference between the CKHS zone lines and those of the high schools in South DeKalb. Simply looking at the shape of the CKHS zone map shows this.
    Granted I only talked to maybe 10 Cross Keys families at a couple of those forums for the secondary school study, but those families all wanted to keep Cross Keys together. Their issue was that Cross Keys was ignored facilities-wise, but they didn’t want their community to be split apart into different feeders. It’s a large school, though, so I’m sure there are lots of different opinions within.
    If DeKalb did a better job of equity across the county, moving people around wouldn’t cause this kind of turmoil. In some situations, kids really do risk losing a lot of opportunities by moving to the school next door.

  6. If it’s the shape, then a Doraville cluster would be appealing, but there is a lot of fear of it becoming Cross Keys 2.0. If it’s just the facilities, a Doraville cluster includes a brand new high school and elementary school.

  7. Let’s talk Class Dojo. Popular app used by elementary teachers in DCSS. It is used very subjectively and tell me very little about my child.
    1) Is Class Dojo purchased by DeKalb County Schools?
    2) Are teachers trained on how to use the app? If so, how often?
    3) What data is being gathered about my child? Where does the data go?
    4) Why is DeKalb County Schools allowing such a subjective app to be use? How effective is it?

  8. I don’t believe the school district pays for Class Dojo. You should ask your teacher, principal or school council. I doubt there is any formal Class Dojo training, but you should ask your teacher.
    The Class Dojo website answers a lot of your questions about privacy and data:

  9. I find it VERY interesting that Gocke is pushing so hard for a majority of the money, if not all, to be spent in the CK cluster. Interesting. He says he advocates for ALL CKHS, but he and the Mayor have both stated that the scope of Buford HWY is Changing. So tearing down affordable housing and forcing families to move is he solution? Why put a majority of the $$ in CKHS when students will be moving out. The Doraville area is booming. We are NOT a mega school system. The land and infrastructure cannot support large schools. Mr. Gocke has suggested CMS Move to SMS; this requiring students to travel longer distance that he says were unfair to CK students. Mr. Gocke, you have called people “racist ” fir trying to keep their community intact. No one is trying to keep kids out. No one protested when students were moved from CK to CCHS this year. In fact, if CCHS students are SO horrible (per Ms. Morris’ latest blog) why are parents fight to send their students there? I believe this is a money issue. Mr. Gocke wants a piece of what the other school communities have invested in their schools. He wants the bigger, better , brighter school in Brookhaven. I see back room politics at play with everyone’s education at risk. Shameful! You don’t make schools better by just moving whole communities around in one large swoop. Programming, facilities and proximity ALL play an important role. It’s about helping a community become involved, full of pride and committed. But alas, Mr. Gocke is NOT an educator, he is just playing chess with children’s education!

  10. I think the concern here is economic segregation and it is every bit as harmful to students as racial segregation. We know from looking at the research that low income students fair better in middle class schools. Gathering our low income families into one school is a really bad idea. I actually like this proposal. However, we are trying to build our way out of a school over crowding problem that is imminent. It will take five to ten years to build the facilities we are asking for. In the interim our children are sitting in crowded classrooms and trailers. No one is going to like this, but in the short term we need redistricting while we create the school facilities we need. Let me also say that if you are concerned about the quality of education in a nearby school, go visit. Take the tour. It might be nicer than you think.

  11. Interesting thoughts September. Should racial and economic diversity be a big part of drawing attendance zones? South DeKalb is the least racial and economic diverse area in the county. Should we address diversity there?

  12. @StanJester, I’m a resident in South Dekalb and I think we need to work on diversity here. How do we initiate that conversation?
    I don’t think my board member (Region 5, Vickie Turner) has quite as open a forum as you do.
    All, check out this podcast that aired on NPR that talks about “integration” in a modern context.

  13. Hello Sarah. I don’t think busing is a good idea. You’re not going to get very far with redistricting. If integration is your goal, then you need to attract people to South DeKalb.

  14. @Stan, Fair.
    Thanks for the quick reply. We have much work to do. -SW

  15. @Anonymous you obviously are new to the conversations around the Cross Keys cluster. Mr. Gocke has been advocating for equity for many years. His concerns isn’t “the majority of the money.” It is providing students in the current Cross Keys cluster the same educational opportunities that are available in other areas of the county. In this, he has been consistent for at least seven years that I am aware of, probably longer.
    I will answer your question with my own. Please, give me your honest answer.
    Why do students in the Cross Keys cluster deserve to be educated in trailers and schools which are falling apart?

  16. @Anonymous –
    I have been completely and publicly candid about my intentions since 2009. Between 2006-2009 I considered myself uninformed on the topic and did my homework. By 2009, I learned a lot about the history and current state of operations of public education in DeKalb County. That year I made a call for support for the kids of BuHi in this editorial:
    That summer I was invited by WSB’s Diana Davis to be interviewed on camera. I was terrified. I spoke to my pastor and gained the courage I needed to get in front of the camera. See:
    The observant will notice that I am VERY careful with my reported comments. The reason? The reporter was baiting me into calling it a case of institutional racism and I refused to do that because I did not believe: a) it is the root cause, and b) it is counter-productive.
    While many people would like to blame “racism” for the situation I have been a clear and consistent voice insisting that “racism” isn’t what caused the isolation of Cross Keys kids, aka, BuHi kids. You can see that in my writings going all the way back to 2009 right through this summer. The situation has been developing since the 70’s before BuHi even became a home to immigrant kids I adore and the situation is much more complicated than the tribalism that you and others may want to perpetuate.
    My view is simple: I want the best facilities possible for the kids of Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville. I believe they are all not only worthy of it but are long overdue in getting it.
    I am proud to have played a role in helping shed light on the need and in helping lead an effort to see it addressed. The projects being examined by the Board of Education will not magically remedy every facilities shortcoming in Region 1 but it will bring us forward in very important ways and yes, especially for the kids of BuHi.
    And while there are many valid discussions and debates about the policies and decisions from DCSD the idea of grand conspiracies and “racism” is only an absurd sideshow by those who want to distract from substantive change.
    If you were being honest or attempting in any way to make an informed comment, you would realize that “all the money” I’m advocating for will lead to the end of Cross Keys as a cluster. So, this certainly isn’t for “Cross Keys HS” in the way you seem to imply. The fact is that more students will have access to quality facilities across the region as a result of this effort. And a very healthy dialog is spreading about curriculum and how best to expand quality offerings. That is a good thing. I am about as agnostic as one can get when it comes to these petty divisions you reference. Your strident comments reinforce the existence of such divisions but I reject them completely.
    I am not an educator and never have claimed any special knowledge in this domain. You flatter me to try and lead others in believing I claim a clue about instruction. I do, however, have a keen eye for fairness in capital invested which is obviously lacking in the case of many of our area schools – not just Cross Keys HS.
    So spit on me all you like for it doesn’t bother me one jot and certainly doesn’t add any light to the informed community discussion going on today in DeKalb. I wish you well and wish you to reciprocate if you can.