The procurement assessment indicated that ethics and integrity at the school district are practically non existent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As a taxpayer in Dekalb County thank you. As an employee of Dekalb County Schools Thank you. As a person who cares about my fellow friends, employees and neighbors THANKYOU for your tireless service to DCSD.
Appreciate your Fact Checker post earlier today, although I have not yet receive directly. My friend and neighbor forwarded theirs earlier this morning. Your DeKalb County analogies are spot on, but you did not mention hoe much money is being saved, when the independent has been asked to review some contracts exceeding $1 million.
Attended “Green on the Scene” at Rockbridge Elementary last night. I was disappointed. Instead of the Superintendent delivering some insight about school operations and current challenges, it was only a long video pep rally for Green followed by two live and separate cheer leader groups of 20 each, That was followed immediately by going directly into audience Q&A.
Hey @Joe, Check your spam email folder. You should be receiving my posts.
How much is the county saving? I don’t follow the county budget and procurement process, but Nancy mentioned that they referred one procurement item over to the internal auditor a couple weeks ago and the cost of the item was reduced by $500,000.
Different parts of the county have different priorities and want different things. How was Q&A? Did you find any of the question or answers interesting?
This is definitely deja vu all over again. The county is running out of money??? The last time they sang that song back in maybe 2009 ish? They cut the kindergarten paras, stopped paying into TSA and increased classes sizes, got rid of step etc… then kept those cuts even into financial recovery. (By becoming so called waiver district). Secret meetings, no surprise at all. How many school districts in Georgia have no paras or aides in kindergarten?
Oh and who can forget how they buried the audit that was done? SACs may soon come calling.
Breaking many many laws ? It appears to be the case but I’m not a legal expert. It is amazing to
Me that our taxpayer money is financing just about everything BUT the actual classroom. Which is being treated (along with the teachers and school employees) like the red headed step child.
I realize that not every bad cut was kept as a result of becoming a waiver district. The most meaningful one was the allowance for larger class sizes. Combining larger classes while removing aides in kindergarten seemed like bad management to me.
Stan, I agree with you about an Independent Auditor and an Ethics Offier and a review of all current contracts and in depth fraud investigation. If we don’t do something now, I can’t imagine DeKalb’s continuing to operate. Please advise how best to make your ideas come to action. The thing that bothers me the most is the way all employees are treated by the system. There’s really no way to complain and insist on getting any respectful treatment. How can we help?
Let your elected representatives know that you support these positions.
Dr. Green has quit, according to the Friday afternoon rumor mill!
@DSW2Contributor, Can you say anything else?
Can you confirm if Dr. Green has resigned? I think you would know?
Educator, I’m quite frequently the last to know. This is the first I’ve heard of it.
Thanks Stan for getting back to us! Can you call him or other Board members and find out? If this is not true and just a rumor it’s a horrible rumor to start. Or maybe he wants to announce it himself?
Wait a minute….Stan…your a Board member! You would know if he resigned! Or is communication and relationships on the BOE just that bad..,
There has not been an official board notification.
Maybe Stan gets his news from the AJC like the employees do!
People who comment on this blog are also an invaluable source of information.
As an employee and a DeKalb county tax payer, I thank you for having the blog, serving on the Board, and looking out for our wellbeing.
Stan, all I can say is that the palace rumor mill went wild today with claims that Dr. Green had quit.
Any news on Dr. Green?
There needs to be an independent auditor for the school system. But there also needs to be an audit of the finances for the schools. The money that the schools get should be used for instructional purposes and equipment that support the schools and students. There use to be some great people who monitored the finances in the schools. All of these people have left the school district.
If the schools are not being monitored the money could be being used in the wrong way, There have been previous issues of problems with school finances. I am so frustrated.
What has happended to us?
You are absolutely right. Keep up the good work.
@Joy, You are absolutely right. Nancy tells me that when she was on the board, SACS recommended an internal auditor. The school district hired an internal auditor. The board proceeded to ask the internal auditor to look into the school accounts. Nancy characterizes the auditor’s findings as the “wild west of cash handling”. Apparently, the auditor found so much unethical and illegal stuff going on at the central office and school house that the only way to address it was to get rid of the auditor.
Both should be audited.
If we cannot figure out how the money is being spent, how are we ever going to be able to correct the problems with salary and our building program? It is difficult for me to understand why the DCSD is not suggesting an audit, in light of the huge problem with salaries.
This is the time of year that educators are signing contracts and looking for employment. I don’t think that this makes DeKalb look like a very attractive place to work. It is not like our test scores have improved greatly. There have been concerns about the lack of back ground checks in hiring, Mr. Jester, we have to try to get something right. Our children deserve this. If we are not willing to take an honest look at our problems, how will we correct them.
@Joy. This is exactly why having Gwinnett HR retired chiefs won’t help HCM with salaries because they have tried this before in 2006 -2007 ish and it didn’t uproot the seeded problems in HCM. There are deep seeded problems of fraud and incompetence in DCSD.
Administrators and board members meet with the public all the time. Find them and ask them why we don’t have an independent auditor, ethics officer or fraud investigation.
Thank you Stan. I will.
I had been trying to contact HR via the email they provided and also called, only to find the voice mail box full. No one was going to reply in the current chaotic salary structure situation so I wrote to all the Board members about a global concern (not a personal salary issue). Although they did not reply directly to me, there was a fairly rapid response that was communicated directly to me from HR via a personal phone call and follow up email.
Write the Board members…be respectful and write about legitimate concerns, questions, etc. I think most employees are afraid of retribution, but we should have the right to voice our opinions to the Board and to administration… as employees and, in my case, as a DeKalb county tax payer.
Go to the Board meetings if you have never been to one. I have not spoken at one but I have helped draft letters provided to, and communication that was presented to, the Board. When I see things that I believe to be questionable, I take it to my department supervisors. I’m not sure it goes anywhere, but I feel better that I have communicated a concern. This blog feels safe because you can voice a complaint incognito. Speak out. Nothing will change with the current culture of complacency if employees do not take a stand.
And Stan and @Joy, the school house issues do continue to be a huge problem…chronic ceiling leaks (that smell like sewage), chronic lack of soap/paper towels in all restrooms (adult and students), lack of gloves for diaper changes because they have run out and were told there’s no money to buy more, no (promised) computers for itinerate staff to use. Same problems year after year.
The conditions of the school houses are in seriously bad shape. Dismayed is correct. Leaking ceilings, foul smelling bathrooms, no toilet paper or paper towels in restrooms. Lack of basic supplies like copy paper. We have been joking told to by our administrators to bring an umbrella because staff bathroom is leaking again(I actually appreciated the humor because crying doesn’t help. And nothing has changed with the constant sanitation and construction issues in the school houses).
Last week the AJC published a story about Gwinnett’s successful Leader Academy that the state is now looking to model. The article mentioned funding by the Wallace Foundation. I remember Dekalb also got Wallace Foundation $ for leadership development, but when I googled it, it looks like Dekalb dropped out or got kicked out two and a half million dollars and three years early.
Do you know how the district funds and evaluates its assistant principals’ and principals’ academies?
My wife and I attended the Green on the Scene and was disappointed. Several challenges were mentioned in the meeting about school safety and the children learning. Dr. Green calls on others to speak and he should re-evaluate that process. How do we find out about the parent centers? My child’s school does not have a center.
Parent Resource Centers
Stan, what about the rumors of the Superintendent’s resignation or firing?
We have board meetings today. If the rumors are true, I’m guessing we’ll hear about it today.
Green Update – Green was understandably incredulous about the notion of him leaving. He was emphatic that the rumor was false.
Another board member mentioned to me that on Friday there was a moving truck and/or somebody was moving out of their office. He believes that somebody saw the moving boxes and the rumor started from that.
Man…that is not a good rumor to start. Thanks for clarification that Dr. Green is staying with us! And…thanks for letting us know Stan!
Mmmm. I’m still not convinced. I have a friend who taught in the DC area who heard Dr. Green recently interviewed for a Superintendent position there. I guess it remains to be seen…
What is the name of your friend in DC and what school district are we talking about here. I’m receptive if you have any proof Green is leaving. Otherwise it is an unfounded rumor.
Someone was packing up and leaving central office – was the BOE notified? Was it an upper level cabinet type? Someone has that much personal stuff in AIC?
My suspicion is the board has allowed Green to spend every dime of the money that Michael Thurmond found and built upon. The board has allowed him to create this nuclear bomb top-heavy palace again of unnecessary titles and positions; and all should be held accountable next voting term. We are over the pep rallies and dance-a-jig photo opps with the same people who get shuffled around with every administration at the buffet table because of sex, lies, frats, and sororities!! Follow the money…
Was there any info from Board meeting that you can share? Especially re: auditor and ethics review?
@Dismayed, which board meeting?
I can’t find anybody that wants an independent auditor, ethics officer or fraud investigator. I’m concerned that we can’t police ourselves effectively.
It’s difficult to remain optimistic about progress in DCSD schools when the truth is revealed. With all the tax revenue collected, DCSD cannot manage to properly compensate educators, repair/maintain existing facilities, or build new schools to relieve overcrowding in Regions 1 and 2. This is just awful.
@DeKalb Parent – totally agree. And it is very discouraging that the BOE has no interest in ethics, independent auditor, etc…even though it was a SACS recommendation and one was hired and oddly “disappeared” years ago. Since then, we have had numerous bookkeeper issues, a whistleblower case settled out of court related to the former CIO (J. Williams) and alleged practices related to back dating contracts, etc, and many more incidences that are questionable. Everyone, write the BOE and ask why they are opposed to oversight? What are they and the DCSD afraid will be reported/found?
I agree with your response to @ Dekalb parent. If the BOE doesn’t want to change the culture of fraud and incompetence…where are we? Are we asking the Governor to intervene again? Do we learn any valuable lessons in Dekalb schools? I’ve seen it all over 27 years…seen the HCM debacles, incompetence due to lack of mentoring and training, and fraud.
Despite outside-help DCS stay is having issues repairing schools. But the school system renewed the contract with the same company and is not sure of the correct number of open repairs. How can people deny the need for an independent audit?
Keep it in the news….AJC… Richard Belcher. If they are not going police themselves the public is going to have to do it
It’s deja vu all over again! Alas, I am trasported back to Wednesday, March 3, 2010, when I wrote a blog post on this very topic. [ http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/03/ethics-debate-which-plan-will-work-best.html ]
Bless that Kevin Levitas – he tried. He proposed a solid DeKalb school board ethics legislation which in the end simply pushed the Board into rewriting it’s own policy to prove their decades-long [unproven] mantra that ‘We can police ourselves”. The new version they came up with allowed board members to punish each other. What’s the status of this now Stan?
“Under the proposed policy, board members can initiate an investigation against another member if they feel the individual violated the district’s code of ethics or conflict of interest policy.”
“The accused would be allowed to provide evidence to defend themselves at a public hearing. If found guilty, the board could discipline the accused member, including ordering them to apology or contacting law enforcement.”
In fact, back in the day, [Jan, 2010] Board member Paul Womack wrote an op-ed piece in the AJC on this very topic.
Here’s an excerpt >>
“Imagine a private company with an annual budget of more than $850 million, more than 102,000 customers, and 13,285 employees — without a clear set of rules governing its directors. Give that company the ability to levy taxes and condemn property, and you have the DeKalb school board. That’s too much power without the checks or balances that taxpayers expect and deserve.”
“There’s currently no rule against me using my position as a member of the school board to get a job in the school system for one of my relatives. There’s nothing that says I can’t serve on some other DeKalb County board, even if serving on that board would create an obvious conflict of interest. There’s no oversight board, official watchdog or ombudsman watching over me (or any of the other board members); no clear set of rules we could turn to if I had an ethical question. And were I to do something that was obviously wrong, there’s no mechanism to punish me, remove me from office, or undo any damage I might have done to the school system. This lack of guidance is not some mere loophole in the law — there’s no law to even put a loophole in!”
It’s ALWAYS Groundhog Day in DeKalb Schools.
Now, nearly a decade later, unchecked this lack of ethics and fraud has seeped into pretty much every nook and cranny of the school district. From the Board on down through the rank and file administrators. Bless the teachers for continuing to fight on and do the best job they can regardless of the lack of support or trust in system culture.
Back then you thought the 13,285 employees were a lot. Now Dekalb employees 15,500. Curiously, the number of students doesn’t seem to have changed while the number of employees has increased more than 2,000. Womack says there are 102,000 customers, or students. The school district says we have 102,000 students today.
Don’t think we’ve seen many bus drivers, substitutes, custodians, or classroom teachers in that 2,000 plus increase.
You’re right about the lack of ethics all the way down. When people have the ability to make an additional 15k to 25k for administrator “promotions” in a matter of months or one year and have a much bigger retirement pension, who cares about ethics or student learning?
You nailed it @dekalbteacher.Prior to 2009 Service Center maintenance employees were reassigned to Central Office staff then layoffs included those positions.Presumably to appear to the public as Administative layoffs.This AJC article exposes this.https://www.ajc.com/news/local/dekalb-schools-cut-lower-paid-workers/nWqoPQFyj3MY7uM4jdPKxK/
This was just the first round,other RIFs followed that reduced the maintenance staff from 300+ to approx.100 now.An outside vendor,SSC, attempts to fill this cavity,but at what cost.Ramona Tyson told these employees in 2009 that salaries consumed about 87-88% of the annual budget and they needed to get that down to around 82% but would achieve this through attrition,not layoffs.Since then we have seen so much disaster in this system,a few arrests,ethics violations,procurement violations,alot of wrong doing.Maybe with Stan’s help we can get the system back on track.
Thirty Years Devoted,
Thurmond didn’t “find” any money. He lied.
What Thurmond did was not pay bills. Then, the amount due was “found.” He did this every year he was superintendent. The first year it was more than $40 million, but always more than $20 million. The money was paid the next fiscal year out of a larger budget.
I’ve taught in DeKalb for longer than I care to admit, and there’s been a need for an auditor in most of that time. At my own school, the principal and assistant principal are knowingly violating laws dealing with FTE funding and NO ONE from the county cares! The principal is such a bully that teachers are afraid to come forward and that’s how she is getting away with her deceitfulness. If anyone looked at the turnover rate of a once stable school, they would realize what was going on. The apathy at the palace never ceases to amaze. As long as the palace workers continue to draw their 6 figure paychecks, they will turn a blind eye to what is really going on at the school level while teachers are working themselves to death.
Thank you for trying so hard to keep us informed. I know that this is the time of year that the budget is being planned for the next school year. What a great time for a complete independent audit of the county and the schools. How in the world do we plan for new spending and we don’t have a detailed report of our previous spending? How would the head of an organization not be in favor of such an audit.
Most people and organizations have a certain amount of money to spend. You must monitor your spending and understand where the money goes. If you realize money is missing, you check and correct. Our schools and students need every cent that is due to them. Our employees deserve that too. In the past when money was missing, there would be an audit. This does not happen now. I am thinking about money today because I was helping a retired DeKalb employee apply for Medicare.
This person worked for DeKalb long enough to be vested in social security without that they would have had to pay over 400 dollars just for the Medicare Part A and another amount for Part B. Then depending on their Advantage Plan, there would be another amount. When this person draws social security, it will be about 150 dollars.
There are many people working in DeKalb that will not be vested in social security. Also, they may qualify for none or very little social security benefits. Depending on where you are in your career, I recommend that you start investigating your status.
DeKalb owes thousands of people the TSA money that they stopped without warning. If we cannot monitor our spending, I don’t see any hope in that money being returned. If we are not audited, I don’t understand how we can monitor spending and see that our money is being spent wisely.