Georgia's largest school systems are still searching for dozens of special education teachers. The districts only have a few weeks before students head back to the classroom on Aug. 10.
So far, the Gwinnett school district has hired more than 1,400 new teachers. But it still needs to fill nearly 40 special education positions. Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach says a nationwide shortage of special education teachers has made hiring them more challenging.
The DeKalb school board voted Thursday to offer Stephen Green, of the Kansas City Schools, a three-year contract as its new superintendent. But one board member is not happy with the decision.
Board member Joyce Morley was the lone dissenting vote.
“There was a major conflict of interest that has taken place throughout this process,” she said.
The board hired firm PROACT to lead the search. It later fired the company because its CEO was embroiled in controversy. Morley implied several candidates, including Green, had ties to the CEO. Green denied that last week.
The DeKalb County school system is expected to officially name a new superintendent Thursday. The school board will vote on whether to offer a contract to Stephen Green, who currently leads the Kansas City schools.
It was clear two weeks ago Green would be offered the job. But legally, the board had to wait until Thursday to vote on a contract.
During a visit to DeKalb last week, Green said he’d be a hands-on leader.
DeKalb County's sole finalist for school superintendent wraps up a three-day visit to the district Thursday. Stephen Green currently leads the Kansas City Schools in Missouri.
Green met with school leaders, staff and parents during his trip. He said he’s coming in with an open mind, but he’s also taking inventory.
“I am taking stock, not just in terms of the facility and the resources — financial — but also, human capital,” he said. “I’m assessing: What do we have here? What do we preserve, protect, keep, enhance, and what do we need to change or modify?”
Stephen Green, from the Kansas City Schools, has been chosen for the job of DeKalb County superintendent. The DeKalb County school board made the announcement Wednesday night.
Green has led the Kansas City schools since 2012, after the district lost accreditation. DeKalb County school board chairman Melvin Johnson credited Green with turning things around.
“Dr. Green brought back the Kansas City school district to provisional certification,” Johnson said. “He has demonstrated innovative approaches to teaching and learning and moving student achievement forward.”
The DeKalb County School District has picked a superintendent finalist. Sources tell WABE the district has tapped Stephen Green, the head of the Kansas City Schools in Missouri.
Green took over the Kansas City Schools in 2012 after the district lost accreditation. The DeKalb school board is expected to announce his candidacy at a press conference Wednesday night. The board will have to wait 14 days before offering him a contract.
The DeKalb County School Board has fired PROACT, the firm that was leading its superintendent search. PROACT’s CEO was embroiled in a controversy over allegedly using racial slurs in emails while he was dean of a Chicago high school. The FBI is also investigating a PROACT subsidiary, also run by its CEO.
The public safety chief in a metro Atlanta school system says one of the school board members still hasn't undergone a national background check that's required for employees.
Board member Stan Jester said he received a background check from Dunwoody and DeKalb County Police. Jester has said that he believes undergoing the school system's background check would be a conflict of interest, since he oversees the system as a board member.
WSB-TV reports that because of the dispute, Jester has not received a paycheck from the district and has not been issued an employee badge.
Some metro Atlanta school districts are updating their health policies to include guidelines for the Ebola virus. Some districts, like DeKalb and Cobb, announced this week students from Ebola-affected countries won’t be able to enroll until the superintendent approves their medical documents. Cobb schools spokesperson Kyler Post says it’s a proactive move.
Hundreds of immigrant children and their families spent the night outside the DeKalb Schools’ International Welcome Center last week. Parents apparently thought if they didn’t register their children for school last week they wouldn’t be admitted to school this year. But DeKalb Schools Spokesperson Quinn Hudson told WABE the district is accommodating all 21,000 students.
The DeKalb school board race will be critical for the community and the metro Atlanta region. DeKalb has the third-largest school district in the state. School and county leaders have urged residents to invest in the contest.
A DeKalb County Superior Court judge recently rejected a plea deal involving former DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis. The County District Attorney charged Lewis and two others with racketeering. Judge Cynthia Becker’s decision means the case may not end any time soon.
The deal allowed Lewis to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge in exchange for testifying against co-defendants Pat Reid and her ex-husband, Tony Pope. Lewis would also receive 12 months’ probation instead of jail time.
The Supreme Court of Georgia unanimously upheld a 2010 state law authorizing Gov. Nathan Deal to suspend six members of the DeKalb County school board. Former DeKalb County school board chair Eugene Walker challenged the constitutionality of the law in federal court. Federal Judge Richard W. Story asked the state's High Court to determine whether the statute complies with the Constitution.
State officials released an audit of the DeKalb County schools this week. The report covered the school system’s finances from July 2011 to June of 2012.
The audit found weaknesses in the district’s accounting practices, including a $14.4 million deficit and poor oversight of a federal technology grant. Chief Financial Officer Mike Bell says the district improved its accounting during the 2013 fiscal year.
“Within the general fund budget for ’13, as of June 30, 2013, we had collected about $26 million more than we spent,” Bell says.
There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding a new set of education standards called the Common Core. Georgia is one of 45 states that have adopted the standards. But some state Republican lawmakers want Georgia to opt out. Others strongly support the Common Core.
As legislators debate the standards, Georgia English/Language Arts and math teachers still have to teach them. WABE visited one DeKalb County high school to see how they’re doing that and whether the controversy has had any effect.
State officials choose 28 Schools of Excellence each year: 2 from each of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts. State Superintendent John Barge said a school can be chosen for one of two reasons. The first is having the highest score on a state-issued report card.
“The second way a school is chosen as a Georgia School of Excellence is being the school in the congressional district that makes the highest progress from year to year in improving student achievement,” Barge said.
DeKalb County officials have responded to a shooting at an elementary school about two weeks ago by forming a new partnership. Thursday, DeKalb church leaders, police, and school officials announced they’re collaborating on a new after school program for students.
About a dozen DeKalb church leaders, county police chief Cedric Alexander, and DeKalb schools chief legal officer Ronald Ramsey announced The Right Choice after school program. Bishop Quincy Carswell, with the Covenant Church in Decatur, says the program will initially target high school boys at risk of dropping out.
Note: we have posted the complete audio of Antoinette Tuff's 911 call at the end of this story.
DeKalb police have released the 911 call and more details about yesterday’s school shooting at McNair Discovery Learning Academy. During the incident no one was injured, but 20-year-old shooting suspect Michael Brandon Hill exchanged gunfire with police. Hill was taken into custody at the school Tuesday.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, accredits schools and districts internationally and in metro Atlanta. SACS faced criticism recently over its accreditation methods. That triggered a meeting this week with the head of SACS and Georgia’s attorney general. The two men discussed how SACS can become more transparent.