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A Hearing or Not a Hearing?

I’ve received many questions about the January 17, 2013 proceeding with the State Board of Education (SBOE).  As you know, the outcome was to postpone and then reconvene the hearing on February 21, 2013.  Most of the questions I’ve received assumed the proceeding on the 17th was a hearing.  I am of the opinion the proceeding did not meet the definition of a hearing in both construction and adherence to procedural requirements.  Why do I hold this opinion?

  1. The SBOE must conduct a hearing pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73.
  2. The hearing must be conducted subject to SBOE Rule 160-5-1-.36.
  3. The “Notice and Order” sent by the SBOE required both parties (SBOE and DBOE) to file witness and document lists by 1/11/13.  It is my understanding that it was acknowledged that neither party had adequate time to prepare complete lists as necessary to conduct a formal hearing.  Furthermore, former board members who had received the Notice were instructed that their presence would not be required on the 17th.
  4. If a formal hearing was anticipated, given that the 3 former board members would have pertinent testimony, they would not have been released from attending the proceeding.
  5. Furthermore, there are many documents to admit into evidence and witnesses to testify to various matters discussed in the AdvancED/SACS Special Review Report on behalf of both parties.  Neither party had produced a comprehensive list of witnesses or documents.  Certainly, staff members from DCSD and AdvancED would need to be present, along with documents, to discuss the issues in the report.  Staff members and documents were conspicuously absent.
  6. The statute provides that the hearing must be held no later than 30 days after receipt of the report from AdvancED.  Given the prerequisites for a hearing were not met, why wasn’t the proceeding officially begun and immediately set to reconvene at the next available date?  Knowing in advance that the requirements to hold the hearing were not met, why was the public not informed that the hearing would be adjourned to reconvene in February?


I know many of you took time away from family responsibilities and work to attend the proceeding.  Many of you obtained childcare so you could be present.  As no action could be taken on the 17th given the procedural constraints, I wish the SBOE had notified you in advance that the proceeding could only culminate in a hearing at a later date.

It was interesting to note several SBOE members testified that the DeKalb BOE should be more “aggressive” in getting information from the DCSD administration about various issues, including financial data.  This seems at odds with statements in the AdvancED/SACS report.  I’m in agreement with the SBOE.  Board members must have a full and unobstructed view of the facts.  Well paid administrators shouldn’t be prickly or sensitive about questions from the board.  If board members had been more aggressive over the past decade, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in this mess.  Sometimes the “governance team” paradigm that is held up as a model of unity makes me wonder what “team” everyone is playing for.  What if the “governance team” sells mediocrity as success and avoidable financial disasters as simple errors?  Today’s citizens are savvy enough to see through that type of spin and rightly demand much more.  Food for thought.

School Choice Week – Empowering Parents in DeKalb

This week is National School Choice Week.  School Choice is about parent empowerment.  If we return the power to parents to govern schools alongside principals and teachers, the cause of education will be well-served.  It also turns schools into innovation laboratories.  It dislodges the bureaucratic hold on budgets and policy.  It allows teachers to teach unencumbered by one-size-fits-all programs, paperwork and creativity-killing dictates.  It allows principals to develop policies that are right for their school.  It minimizes the footprint and potential entanglements of district-wide financial problems.  I’m an advocate for implementing this type of real local control in DeKalb.  It would be a reforming and sustainable model for successful outcomes for kids.   This model is called the Portfolio Strategy.  It empowers parents and gives them choices.

If you support empowering parents, communities and teachers, please join me at the School Choice Rally at the Capitol on Thursday at 10am.  For more details, go to this website: .  You can also show your support for reforming our district by reading my Declaration of Parent Empowerment and sharing it with other parents and leaders.


  1. Todd says:


    Yes, I fully appreciate the blog….had there been no blogpost, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I am proud of the moderator for allowing everyone to express their views.

    I agree with you that we should all stay off crack, both in practice and on this blog.

    As for coming back and responding to those who say I am wrong, I certainly don’t have to feel I am right. But, I think it is a bit naive to think that if someone says you are wrong or takes issue with what you have to say, you will just sit there like a bump on a log.

    But, make no mistake about it, I do care about WHAT is right. About government, yes. About kids, yes. About the public’s ability to put faith in and trust their elected official, yep, that too.

    If you think it is a tirade, you are welcome to that opinion. In fact, call it whatever name you want. If it gets us somewhere, I will live with it.

    Take care.

  2. Betsy Parks says:

    Ms. Jester, i think you should take a moment and learn a thing or two from DSW2. Just saying policing is not something you or the DKBOE do well. I do applaud you for this blog and your hard work on a dysfunctional self-serving board. I encourage you to petition Governor Deal.
    dekalbschoolwatch says:
    February 1, 2013 at 5:36 PM
    HOUSEKEEPING NOTE: Please do not post personal attacks on other bloggers or people. We are not interested in playing host to petty arguments. We have removed a sidebar argument that had been taking place in the comments on this post. That said, it is very difficult to monitor every comment without putting the whole blog on total moderation, which we have done in the past, but try to avoid as it is a lot of work for us to read each and every comment. (Have we ever mentioned that we work full time at ‘jobs’? We are not professional paid bloggers.)

    If you see a comment that you find offensive, please shoot us an email and request that it be removed. We have accommodated people many, many times with these kinds of requests.

  3. Kathy Arnold says:

    Can someone please tell me what time I should plan to arrive at the State BOE Thursday if I want to get a seat? (I cannot stand for a long period of time.) Thank you.

  4. Betsy Parks says:

    Kathy, I will be there very early and will save you a seat. If you arrived late last time they had a conference room set up with the meeting being “streamed in”. You can leave me a message on
    Pushing 1700 signatures!

  5. DeKalb School Watch Editors says:

    @ Nancy Arnold

    This note about tomorrow’s hearing was left on DeKalb School Watch blog today (2/20/2013):

    “If you are planning on attending the hearing tomorrow, please note that it is Disability Day at the Capitol. The events start at 9:00 am with the rally at 11:00. Governor Deal is scheduled to be the keynote speaker. This is typically a well attended event so be prepared for traffic and possible challenges with parking and maybe street closures.”

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