DeKalb County Schools

Education
11:54 am
Mon April 20, 2015

DeKalb Schools Use Technology For Instant Translation

The DeKalb County School District purchased 200 instant translation devices. The device translates up to 180 languages by connecting teachers to translators.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

In DeKalb County schools, teachers who need to speak with parents who don’t understand English well are getting a little help from technology. 

The district bought 200 translation devices that can translate up to 180 languages.

Sara Lawson teaches sixth-graders at Freedom Middle School in Stone Mountain. She demonstrated how to use the ELSA ("Enabling Language Service Anywhere") device. 

She hits a button on what looks like a small remote, which connects her to an Amharic translator. Amharic is a language spoken in Ethiopia.

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Education
1:37 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

DeKalb School Board Member Hasn't Had Required Background Check

Board member Stan Jester still hasn't undergone a national background check that's required for school employees.
Credit Stan Jester / LinkedIn

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.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Georgia's Fight Over AP US History Exam Continues

Jose Gregory says the new AP U.S. History framework gives teachers more flexibility.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it" is a phrase often quoted by historians. 

Republican lawmakers in some states, including Georgia, are worried students taking a new AP U.S. History exam won’t learn the “right” lessons.

Jose Gregory’s Advanced Placement U.S. history class at the DeKalb School of the Arts begins with the Pledge of Allegiance. Today’s topic is World War I, specifically America’s entry into the war.

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Local
12:12 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Metro Atlanta School Officials Favor Virtual Learning Over Snow Days

Last year's "Snowpocalypse" in Atlanta forced many students to stay the night in schools.
Credit nickmickolas / Flickr/nickmickolas

Next time it snows, Forsyth County children won’t be able to sleep in or have snowball fights with their neighbors.

They’ll have to go online and log on to a virtual classroom says Jennifer Caraccialo with Forsyth County Schools.

“It could have what they’re covering in class, it could have assignments, you could have discussions with your peers… you can also interact with your teachers.”

This is an effort by the school system to not lose school instruction to snow days.

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Education
3:52 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Thurmond: DeKalb Schools' Ebola Policy Errs on Side of Caution

The word "Welcome" is displayed in 11 languages in the entrance of the DeKalb Schools central office.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Several metro Atlanta school systems have updated their health policies to include Ebola guidelines. The DeKalb County school district was one of the first to do so after delaying enrollment for two students who came from a country affected by the virus. Now, the students need to have their medical documents approved by the district superintendent before they can attend class.

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Education
6:46 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

School Districts Update Policies to Include Ebola Response

Credit Dan Raby / WABE

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.

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Local
10:55 am
Fri October 17, 2014

DeKalb County Schools Create Ebola Monitoring Policy

Chamblee High School, one of the schools that will be affected by Dekalb County official's decision regarding students from Ebola-stricken areas.
Credit John Phelan / Wikimedia

DeKalb County schools officials say no new students from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa may enroll without proper medical documentation and the superintendent's approval.

Officials said in a statement Thursday that the district has notified all principals and administrators of the policy, which includes new students from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and other areas.

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Education
10:06 am
Thu August 14, 2014

DeKalb Schools Registering Thousands of Immigrant Students

Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE News

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.

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DeKalb School Board
12:48 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Voters' Guide to DeKalb School Board Candidates

An overview of the new school districts in DeKalb County. A link to a detailed PDF version of this map of the districts appears below.
Credit DeKalb County

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.

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Education
10:11 am
Tue April 8, 2014

DeKalb Teachers to Pay Fines for Breaking Contracts

Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

DeKalb County teachers will have a new clause in their contracts for the upcoming school year. Teachers will be held accountable for ‘liquidated damages.’

DeKalb teachers will  have to pay a fine of $750 if they break their contracts.

“Teachers are pretty upset about it,” says David Schutten, the president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “DeKalb is facing a crisis in terms of retaining teachers.”

At a recent board meeting, district officials complained that several teachers violated their contracts by not showing up at the beginning of the school year.

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Local
5:31 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Judge Rejects Lewis' Plea; Attorney Files Appeal

Lewis, Reid, and Pope were sentenced in DeKalb County Superior Court.
Credit DeKalb County Court System

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.

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Local
5:30 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

DeKalb Judge Sentences Former Superintendent, Two Others

Some former DeKalb County school system employees were sentenced Monday for their role in a racketeering scheme.
Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE News

Former DeKalb schools superintendent Crawford Lewis and two others were sentenced Monday in DeKalb County Superior Court. The three will serve jail time for their roles in a racketeering scheme.

Judge Cynthia Becker sentenced Lewis, former district Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid and her ex-husband, Tony Pope during a special hearing.

Reid was sentenced to 15 years in prison for steering contracts to Pope’s architecture firm. Pope received an eight-year sentence. 

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Breaking
8:23 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Supreme Court Upholds Suspension of DeKalb School Board Members

The Georgia Supreme Court upheld a law allowing Gov. Nathan Deal to and replace six members of the DeKalb County school board.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

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. 

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Local
9:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

State Releases Audit of DeKalb Schools

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. 

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Common Core Standards
9:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

A Look at the Common Core in the Classroom

Mr. Eismeier's students work on a project to demonstrate their comprehension of "The Hot Zone."
Martha Dalton/WABE News

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.  

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Local
12:40 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Former DeKalb Superintendent Crawford Lewis Takes Plea Deal, Will Testify

Dr. Crawford Lewis, former DeKalb County School Superintendent, in a photo from 2008.
Credit Milken Family Foundation

Former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis is taking a plea deal with the state.

And as WABE’s Rose Scott reports, Lewis now will become a witness for the prosecution.

In May of 2010, Crawford Lewis and three others were indicted on charges that included racketeering.

It stemmed from a lengthy investigation into how contracts were given for school construction projects.

Now, Lewis is taking a guilty plea of obstructing a law-enforcement officer.

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Education
1:36 am
Tue October 8, 2013

DeKalb School Board Extends Thurmond's Contract

Former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is now DeKalb County's superintendent.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

It’s no longer “interim superintendent.” Now, former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is the DeKalb County school district’s superintendent until June 2015.

The board unanimously agreed to extend Thurmond’s contract, which otherwise would’ve ended in February. His annual salary of $275,000 won’t change.Thurmond said he’s pleased to stay in DeKalb.

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Local
5:22 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

DeKalb High School Named Georgia School of Excellence

State Schools Superintendent John Barge presents the Georgia School of Excellence award to DECA principal Sharon D. Riley Ordu.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

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.  

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Local
4:50 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

DeKalb Officials Announce New After School Program

Clergy from DeKalb County churches stand behind police chief Cedric Alexander to announce the new program.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

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.

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Local
7:22 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

DeKalb Police Release 911 Audio of McNair School Shooting

Police released this self-portrait of suspect Michael Brandon Hill with a gun, taken with his cellphone.

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. 

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Local
2:06 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Suspect in Custody After Shots Fired at McNair Discovery Learning Academy

Parents and family forming a prayer circle while waiting for the students.
Dan Raby WABE

No one was injured when a gunman, now in custody, fired shots inside a DeKalb County elementary school early this afternoon.

The school is the Ronald E. McNair Discover Learning Academy Elementary School in Decatur. The school has more than 800 students.

Officials with DeKalb County Schools told parents to pick up students at the Walmart near Gresham Road and I-20.

This is a breaking story.  WABE will have more later during All Things Considered, and we will post information here as it becomes available.

***

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Local
12:31 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

State Attorney General Asks for More Transparency from SACS

The DeKalb County school board went through a restructuring process after the governor suspended six of its nine members. A scathing report from SACS sparked the process.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

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.

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Local
5:44 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

DeKalb Students Head Back to School

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Monday was the first day of school for students in several metro Atlanta districts, including the DeKalb County schools. DeKalb starts the year on accredited probation. The district’s interim superintendent says he’s sure the year will end on a different note.

DeKalb’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, gave the district eleven criteria to meet by December. Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond says they’ll do it.

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Local
5:43 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Judge Upholds All DeKalb School Board Suspensions

Jesse "Jay" Cunningham prepares to testify at his reinstatement hearing before Judge Maxwell Wood.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Gov. Nathan Deal says his suspensions of five former DeKalb County school board members have been upheld by a judge. That's despite the board members' appeals to reclaim their seats. 

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Local
4:04 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Judge Upholds Two DeKalb Suspensions

Chief Judge Max Wood of the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings presided over the hearings of the suspended DeKalb County school board members.
Credit osah.ga.gov

Sara Copelin-Wood and Pam Speaks are two of the people Governor Deal suspended from the DeKalb County School Board earlier this year.

Today, Governor Deal said an administrative law judge has upheld the suspensions.

Both Copelin-Wood and Speaks petitioned for reinstatement to the offices they were elected to hold.

But, according to an email Deal’s office sent out today, the administrative law judge ruled both Copelin-Wood and Speaks failed to show their presence on DeKalb’s school board would improve the school system’s chances to regain full accreditation.

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WABE News
6:47 am
Tue July 16, 2013

DeKalb School Board Reinstatement Hearings Continue

Jesse "Jay" Cunningham testifies at his DeKalb County school board reinstatement hearing.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Monday, a fourth suspended member of the DeKalb County school board appeared in court in an attempt to reclaim his seat.

Jesse "Jay" Cunningham testified he deserves to be reinstated.

Cunningham, who represented himself in court, called seven witnesses to testify on his behalf. Some were school system employees, others were DeKalb parents. PTA president Tanya Graham testified  Cunningham was an involved board member who cared about students. 

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WABE News
3:44 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Accrediting Agency Says DeKalb School District is Improving

Newly-appointed members of the DeKalb County school board have until December to put some long-term measures in place.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

The DeKalb County school system has made progress, according to the district’s accrediting agency. But the system may still face some obstacles while working to regain full accreditation.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says DeKalb has shown improvement in governance and financial practices. But Mark Elgart, the CEO of SACS’ parent company, says the key will be sustaining that progress.

“They must not only show further progress, but show evidence that what they have done and are doing has a long-term ability to stay  in place,” Elgart says.

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Local
9:37 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Former DeKalb County School Board Chairman Testifies to Get Seat Back

Eugene Walker, former DeKalb County School Board chairman, testifies before an administrative law judge.
Credit Elly Yu/for WABE

The former DeKalb County school board chairman is fighting to get his elected seat back. Eugene Walker testified in a reinstatement hearing on Wednesday, the third board member to do so.

The governor removed Walker and five other members in February after a state board recommendation, but Walker and his attorney argued that the report that led to his removal was biased and lacked evidence.

The report by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, also known as SACS, said the board was dysfunctional. But Walker disagreed with its findings:

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WABE News
4:26 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

DeKalb Schools Locked in Legal Battle with Construction Management Firm

The headquarters for the DeKalb County School District in Stone Mountain.
Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE News

For six years the DeKalb County school district has been embroiled in a lawsuit with a construction management firm. Both sides say they’re closer to a resolution although it’s unclear exactly when the case will wrap up. 

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Local
6:08 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

First of Five Suspended DeKalb School Board Members Has Reinstatement Hearing

Suspended DeKalb County Board Member Pam Speaks testifies at her reinstatement hearing.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Suspended DeKalb County Board Member Pam Speaks testifies at her reinstatement hearing.

 Thursday, one of six suspended members of the DeKalb County school board had her day in court. Dr. Pam Speaks tried to convince administrative law judge Max Wood that she should get her seat back. 

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