Monday, June 13, 2011

 Superintendent Search - Setting the record straight

DeKalb Citizens,

I am writing on behalf of the DeKalb Board of Education members Don McChesney, Pam Speaks, Paul Womack and myself.  

Unfortunately, on Friday, June 10, 2011, someone leaked information about the superintendent search process to the media. You can view the story by clicking here. The leak included the name of a candidate and violated confidentiality. Had this action not been taken, we would not be writing to you today. Everything that we are writing about is already available to the public.  

We are writing because we feel compelled to set the record straight on this candidate. We ran for our positions to do something and not be something. We believe that we must hire a leader from outside of our system. This is not to say that we do not have capable people within our ranks. We have many wonderful employees. Unfortunately, we also have real structural impediments to success combined with a lack of public confidence and a myriad of perception problems.

When we began this process we thought that we were on our way to finding a qualified and dedicated professional. Our search firm provided us with a host of diverse and worthy candidates. As you know, our search has already been plagued by leaks that were purposefully made to undermine the will of the board and caused candidates to withdraw from consideration. This was a great loss for DeKalb from a superintendent perspective and it damaged our ability to attract candidates. We are convinced that the latest leak has made DeKalb radioactive to potential candidates. These actions have damaged the students, employees and the taxpayers of DeKalb County. Furthermore, they have potentially damaged a candidate who did nothing other than graciously accept our invitations to speak with us.

We want you to know that from the beginning, Dr. Duron emerged as our number one choice. It was abundantly clear to us that he had the temperament and experience to lead our district. We independently reviewed his record. We familiarized ourselves with the accountability standards in his state. We examined the population of his students. We read the impressive references that were written on his behalf.  

We would like to set the record straight on Dr. Duron's record. His district has seen steady improvements under his leadership. He has even proved creative and resourceful in obtaining grant money for inventive ways to tackle achievement problems and re-purpose once closed schools. We have put together a PDF that you can download from the blog tab of Click here to go directly to the link. You will see that with a significantly poorer district, Dr. Duron has outperformed DeKalb with respect to AYP standards. In DeKalb (2010) we had 5 failing subgroups for AYP as a system. Dr. Duron's district had only 1 sub-group that failed.  

There are some members of our board that would have you believe that Dr. Duron isn't a qualified candidate because his district received a label of "academically unacceptable" from the TEA. Please review the website PDF for clarity on this matter. You will note that Texas standards include a completion rate. Districts must track all students even if they leave your district and move out of the state or country. Each district is required to document that a student that leaves is enrolled in school elsewhere. SAISD missed their "completion rate" standard by 9 students that they were unable to locate. Please note that for the academic year that just ended, Dr. Duron's district is projected to meet this standard and receive the "academically acceptable" rating from the TEA. Again, you can see this documented in the PDF on my website. 

We ask you to stand with us and support Dr. Duron. He is a qualified professional that will serve and represent our district well. He will bring accountability, ethics and innovation to DeKalb. We cannot wait. Our children cannot wait. If you agree with us, please email the board. Here are their addresses:

Thank you,
Nancy Jester
Don McChesney
Pam Speaks
Paul Womack

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Open Letter of Appreciation to the PCMS Community

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who organized and attended the beautiful dedication ceremony held at Peachtree Charter Middle School for my husband, Keith Davis. Thank you very much for inviting me to the wonderful event. It was truly overwhelming to see so many people come together to remember his life. I was deeply touched by the poignant words and songs dedicated to his memory.

The shade tree and a bench in front of the school building will be a fitting tribute to Keith, because he really loved being at the school, and he also cherished nature. He would have loved the T-shirt, too. The wonderful design perfectly captures the eternal hippie in him, and he would have been pleased to know that his sometimes odd sayings were remembered well by his students. 

I would also like to thank his current and former students, faculty and staff at Peachtree, and everyone who sent heartfelt get-well messages and wrote touching stories about their favorite moments with Mr. Davis. Those messages and stories were an enormous source of comfort for him, and now they have become treasured mementos for me.

Finally, I want you to know that, during his illness, what Keith missed the most was being in his classroom at Peachtree, teaching and telling stories to his "babies." If he could have seen the ceremony, he would have been deeply moved and incredibly happy.

On behalf of Keith, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Yuri Chujo Davis

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mr. Keith Davis
Peachtree Charter Middle School Teacher

I believe most of his former students are aware, but for those of you who may not be aware, Mr. Keith Davis, a teacher at Peachtree Charter Middle School died Sunday, April 3rd.  Mr. Davis was a very popular, 7th grade Language Arts teacher at Peachtree.  In fact, both of my children consider Mr. Davis as one of their favorite teachers ever.

Godspeed, Mr. Davis

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dr. Mark Elgart of SACS Speaks to the DeKalb BOE

Video of Dr. Elgart's 3/14 Address to the DCSS BOE

Dr. Elgart addressed the BOE prior to Monday's Business Meeting.   This video is a little over an hour long, but well worth watching - do not let the media drive your view of what is going on between SACS and DCSS.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dunwoody High Students Head to "American Idol"

(Courtesy of Fox 5 Atlanta)

Some Dunwoody High School students will get the trip of a lifetime. They'll head to Los Angeles for a behind the scenes look at American Idol thanks to alum Ryan Seacrest.

At Dunwoody High School, it's the morning announcements - broadcast from the school's new, state-of-the-art studio. But the excitement for this class is an upcoming trip to Los Angeles - including a backstage pass to one of the most watched shows on earth – American Idol.And it's all thanks to Dunwoody High's most distinguished former student - Ryan Seacrest.

"I can't sleep at night I'm so excited," said student Alex Faas.

The 24 students will sit in on a rehearsal and taping of American Idol as well as some other experiences that mass communications teacher Jack Reynolds is trying to keep a secret. 

"I figured out some of the secrets we're doing in L.A. We're going to do a little bit of the premiere at Paul. We also doing a tour of a TV show hopefully - which happens to be one of my favorite shows. I think it's Glee," said Fass.

"Hopefully, maybe J-Lo is there, somebody like that," said student Darrius Hamilton.

Seacrest's mom was back at the family's stomping grounds to see the new studio and was amazed at the progress."This looks fabulous," said Ryan's mother, Connie Seacrest. "You've come a long way from the first voice of Dunwoody that's for sure."

But Mrs. Seacrest says no one is more excited than Ryan about Dunwoody High being in L.A.."He can't wait. He loves seeing people from his hometown and that's why he started the project at Egelston because this is where he began," said Connie Seacrest.

"Hey everyone,..." The voice, a radio program located in the lobby of Children's Hospital at Egleston is Seacrest's pet project and Dunwoody students host the show every week. Mrs. Seacrest says while the trip to L.A. is a treat for Dunwoody, knowing the next voice could be sitting where her son sat is Dunwoody's gift to her. "One of the guys told me one day, he said I'm the next Ryan Seacrest. I said good for you. You have to have a passion and a dream," said Mrs. Seacrest. 

The students depart Sunday for Los Angeles and will be returning Thursday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

**Reminder (as if you need it, right?)**
Redistricting Public Input Meeting
Thursday, January 20th, 6:30 p.m.
Chamblee Charter High School

I will not be able to attend the meeting due to a Dunwoody HS Swim Meet, but I am sure our other Dunwoody blogs will have some posts and thoughts. Also, if anyone attends and would like to write something up for this blog, please send an email and I will post it.

Something to remember: The centralized and decentralized proposals are options from the consultant for consideration and NOT recommendations. I would fully expect there to be changes from the original options.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Proposed new Dunwoody School Attendance Areas

Wow!!!  This is a lot to take in....

"Centralized" Options:

Click here to see the proposed Dunwoody ES school attendance areas.  It appears that Chesnut is being split between 3 schools, Kingsley, Dunwoody ES and Nancy Creek (apartments bordering I-285, along with the Georgetown and Chateau Woods subdivisions).  A portion of Austin school district (those apartments bordering I-285) to Nancy Creek as well. A small portion of Hightower being zoned into Chesnut. 

Click here to see the new proposed Dunwoody middle school and high school attendance areas.  It appears the apartments along I-285 would be moved into the Chamblee district as well as Georgetown and North Springs subdivisions.

If I were a resident of Georgetown or Chateau Woods, I would be more than a little upset as Dunwoody HS is close to these subdivisions - closer than Hightower is to Dunwoody. This change should be modified, imo.
"Decentralized" Options:

Click here to see the proposed elementary school attendance zones under this option. 

Click here to see the proposed middle school and high school attendance zones.  No change for PCMS or Dunwoody.

Since I'm almost out of blogging time here at work, go here for everything!!!