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Drugs, Prostitution, and Now Murder at an Abandoned DeKalb County School

Last night I heard this story on the news: Body Found Near Old School in DeKalb County.

A neighbor walking his dog heard gunshots and then came across the body of a man who was shot and died at the closed Atherton Elementary School property off of Glenwood Road. The video of the school property showed a neglected, overgrown, boarded-up building that is a blight to that community. The neighbors that were interviewed in the story said that the school building and property have become magnets for drugs, prostitution, and homeless people. Sadly, we can now add murder to that list.

DeKalb County School District needs to vastly improve their building and site maintenance. This is true for schools currently in use and for surplus property. Too often, projects that SPLOST dollars pay for, are really caused by a lack of proper maintenance on the assets. If DeKalb did competent maintenance your SPLOST dollars could all be dedicated to their real purpose – building new schools and expanding and improving existing facilities. Sadly, SPLOST has become the source of basic maintenance dollars for the district.

So, with all of the SPLOST tax dollars the district has collected over 20 years of the SPLOST tax, DeKalb Schools let Atherton Elementary School become an eyesore and a hotbed of criminal activity, and now murder, in the middle of a community. I think the root of the problem lies with the bureaucratic power structure and the fact that they are accountable to no one. These unelected decision makers have so bungled the SPLOST building program that I call it building operations malpractice, at this point. Why have they allowed trailers to proliferate along the Buford corridor? Why have they not added onto schools that have had temporary buildings in place for a decade? What are they doing to alleviate the current and, soon exploding, trailer expansions in Dunwoody? Why have they not torn down Atherton Elementary and turned the property into a park for the community? DeKalb School District has its own police force. How often are these officers on-site given the crime and blight present at this abandoned property? How long has it been since someone in DeKalb Schools came over and cared for the vegetation on this property?

I have sent an email to DeKalb County officials to inquire what can be done to hold the school district responsible for their neglectful ownership. This community deserves better.


  1. Nancy Jester says:

    I am pleased to report that DeKalb County Code Enforcement Leadership responded quickly with a plan to address the situation at Atherton Elementary School. Here is a portion of the email I received:

    “Per our conversation, Code Enforcement has the authority, and is in fact authorized to enforce the code on every property owner per Sec. 18-1 (1) of the code of ordinances (Purpose and findings states): “it is the duty of the owner of every dwelling, building, structure, or property within the unincorporated jurisdiction of this county to construct and maintain such dwelling, building, structure, or property in conformance with applicable codes in force within the jurisdiction, or such ordinances which regulate and prohibit activities on property and which declare it to be a public nuisance to construct or maintain any dwelling, building, structure, or property in violation of such codes or ordinance.”

    In the past, the Code Enforcement Division has forwarded any complaints about school properties to the Board of Education ‘s Facility Director for action. At approximately 4:15 pm today, I spoke to Jackie Boyd (BOE) and set an onsite meeting next week to inspect the property for compliance.

    Special Operations Supervisor Adams will be the point of contact for this case. He will photograph the current conditions and obtain a timeframe for compliance.

    Thank you,
    Marcus Kellum
    Code Enforcement Division”

  2. JACK SARTAIN says:


  3. Stan Jester says:

    Atherton elementary school closed in 2011. The DeKalb County Board of Education approved the demolition of the former Atherton elementary school along with three other vacant surplus properties during its August 2015 business meeting. I am told the Public Safety Department has increased its security patrol in the area. A demolition contractor has been confirmed and the building is scheduled to be demolished this fall or early winter depending on receipt of a demolition permit from DeKalb County. A perimeter security fence is scheduled to be installed by the contractor next week.

  4. Mo Diggidy says:

    The security fence has already been breached. It only lasted 2 days before someone cut the chain on both entrances. Prostitution hasn’t stopped. Any time during the day you can see cars driving around the building. No one checks on the property. No police presence. A simple walk around the perimeter will yield an endless number of used condoms. Another murder took place last night just about 300 feet away from the Atherton entrance.

    Atherton has a hidden secret as well. Google earth the address (1694 Atherton Dr. Decatur, Ga. 30035) and you will notice that Atherton Dr has a dead end….but if you travel through the woods a couple hundred yards, you will notice 2 adjacent BASEBALL FIELDS!!!!! Currently overgrown with weeds….About 100 yards southwest of the baseball fields lie an active lake/pond. I personally take 8-15 kids from this communtiy fishing in that lake EVERY SUNDAY! Why isn’t this ENTIRE AREA a park??? I grew up in this community. We’ve NEVER had organized recreation. This is the perfect location and opportunity to change the lives of several people. Young and old.

  5. Nancy Jester says:

    Mo – Thank you for commenting on my blog. I messaged you on Twitter. I am impressed by what you are doing for your neighborhood. You are a blessing! I want to help. I look forward to talking with you soon.

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