Sunday, September 30, 2012

Congratulations to the Dunwoody High School Quiz Bowl Team

Congratulations to the Dunwoody Quiz Bowl Team on its 3rd place finish in the GATA Fall Tournament at Marist this weekend! In the opening event of our season, Erin Thomas, Sahima Godkhindi, Thomas Dellaert and Zack Bloomberg went 9-1 in the tournament, outscoring thier opponents by a combined score of 3060-1620. We also had a second team in the tournament, anchored by juniors Saakya Peechara and Mallory Harris. In their first high school tournament ever, the second team players performed very well,qualifying for the playoffs.   

Thursday, September 27, 2012

DeKalb School District Receives Letter from Sam Olens, Attorney General, State of Georgia

From DCSD Website...
DCSD to respond to letter from Attorney General
DCSD received a letter from the Georgia attorney general today "regarding potential closed meetings" alleged in a Sept. 6 Atlanta-Journal Constitution news story. In the letter, the attorney general requests information regarding meetings between the Board of Education or a committee of the Board with officials of AdvancED or SACS. The district is responding with the facts, and the subsequent response to the attorney general will be shared with the public.

Click here to read the letter from Sam Olens. 

Click on the links below to view the referenced articles:

AJC Article - DeKalb School Board Bars Public
News Article - Administrative Process or Closed Hearings?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dunwoody Reporter:  School Newspapers Refocus to Meet with Changing Times

By Melissa Weinman and Stacy Bubes

Over the summer, Dunwoody High School teacher Desiree Tabor Carter reached out to the community for help getting a newspaper started at the school.

She was hoping to drum up support from adults, but more importantly, from kids who were interested in putting in the hours to write, edit and design a publication for their fellow students. Only a handful of students stepped up this semester. But Tabor Carter meets with the kids who are interested in the newspaper once a week, and they hope to print an issue this year.

Tabor Carter said the school published its last newspaper about five years ago, when the then-advisor was promoted to assistant principal. No one took over as advisor to the newspaper, she said, and the program never recovered.

Click here to read the remainder of the article.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

DCSD First Grade Gifted Identification

There was a discussion at the September Board of Education meeting regarding the elimination of ITBS testing for 1st Grade due to budgetary issues.  The ITBS is one of the methods by which DCSD identifies Gifted Students.  Ms. Howe led a discussion of possible Gifted Identification alternatives to ITBS for 1st Grade students, but it was obvious that this alternative could not be implemented prior to the October ITBS testing schedule. 

The following notice from Ms. March explains that 1st Grade will be included in this year's ITBS testing schedule:

In light of the discussions at the Board of Education meeting held Tuesday, September 11, 2012 regarding first grade gifted identification, DeKalb County School District will administer the Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) and Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) to all first grade students as we have done in previous years. All students in grades 1, 3, 5 and 7 will participate in the following evaluation procedures:

  • All DCSD students in grades 1, 3, 5 and 7 will be tested for the Program for Gifted following the district-wide assessment schedule.
  • In October, the CogAT is administered district-wide to first, third, fifth and seventh grade students. These scores provide data in the mental ability area for eligibility.
  • In October, the ITBS is administered district-wide to first, third, fifth and seventh grade students. These scores provide data in the achievement area for eligibility.
  • In November, motivation and creativity rating scales (Renzulli) are completed on every student not currently identified as gifted, by the classroom teacher, in grades one, three, five and seven.
  • All first, third, fifth and seventh grade students must have a score in all four areas necessary for gifted evaluation.

Therefore, at this time, we will not be moving forward with the alternative identification piloting plan. Testing dates can be found on the Dekalb County Schools website,

Kendra D. March
Deputy Superintendent, School Leadership and Operational Support
DeKalb County School District

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dunwoody High School Announces
2013 National Merit & National Achievement
Scholarship Semi-Finalists

sent out via DHS News
We are proud to announce
Dunwoody High School's Semi-Finalists
in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Competition:

Ellen Bertschi
Hayley Hopkins

We are also proud to announce
Dunwoody High School's Semi-Finalist for the
2013 National Achievement Competition:

Erin Thomas

These students will go on to compete to become National Merit and National Achievement Finalist. Please congratulate these students and their parents when you see them in school or in the community!!
24th Annual USA Mathematical Talent Search

The 24th Annual USA Mathematical Talent Search is underway! The USAMTS is a 3-round individual mathematics contest in which students register on their own at Each round, there are 5 problems to solve. The problems are available online, and, for Dunwoody High students, a copy of the problems is also posted on the Math Team bulletin board outside room 3109. The first round solutions must be submitted by October 22nd.

Students may use calculators, computers and books, but work must be independent--no collaboration or consulting others is allowed. Participation is free and open to all middle and high school students.

Contestants do have to show work, and will receive feedback from professional mathematicians. The contest is sponsored in part by the National Security Agency.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

AJC:  DeKalb schools to go on state remedial budget plan to make up for $24 million shortfall

By Jeffry Scott
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  

The DeKalb County school board will have to work with the state to pay down a $24 million deficit left from the last school year, even as its current budget appears headed for another shortfall of almost the same size.  

The school board knew this was coming, since by state law school district budgets must be balanced.  

Scott Austensen, Georgia Education Department chief financial officer, told the board’s finance committee Friday that once the district submits its final financial figures from the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the state will audit the numbers and set up a remedial budget plan that will require the board to detail how it will reduce the budget in monthly reports. The process could take a couple of years.

Click here to read the remainder of the article.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DCSD Board of Education Members Speaks, Jester and McChesney
Comments to Dr. Atkinson re: SACS Inquiry

Note:  A few minutes after posting this entry, Dr. Atkinson's Response to SACS was sent out via the DCSD K12 Alert Notification System.

In our continuing effort to be transparent, we are making public the letter that is being sent to AdvancED in response to their inquiry. We are also making public our comments about the response.

Dr. Atkinson’s Response to SACS
Nancy Jester’s Comments
Don McChesney’s Comments

From: Pam Speaks
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
To: ‘’
Subject: My comments on the SACS response letter

Dr. Atkinson,

I suppose that the proper protocol is to send a letter such as the one sent to you by Dr. Elgart addressing allegations that our school district is in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards and/or Policies even though as I reread the letter it seems to me the letter should have been addressed to the DeKalb Board of Education instead of you because the alleged complaints are with the board not the superintendent. That aside, you are doing what you are required to do and that is to formulate a response. I believe the amended draft response effectively outlines the steps you have initiated with board approval and support to address the school district’s budget and financial concerns as well as other systemic changes designed to move the district forward.

Unfortunately in my opinion, the response does little to address the crux of what Dr. Elgart’s letter is all about and that is the behavior of individual members of the board and the operation of the board as a whole.

I need specific examples of allegations from AdvancED if I am being asked to respond to them. I respectively suggest that if this draft letter or some semblance there of is submitted to AdvancEd and results in and I quote, “if after review of your response, we believe the DeKalb County Public School System may be in violation of the AdvancED Accreditation Standards or policies, a Special Review Team may be appointed to visit the school system”, I suggest we add to this draft response that we welcome this Special Review Team. Maybe then, after such a visit we will be able once and for all to silence these complaints and allegations or maybe not.

If it results in the maybe not then we will have to deal with the consequences.

Thank you for allowing me to provide feedback.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

AdvancedED / SACS Letter – Our Thoughts

The following was sent out via email from Dr. Pamela Speaks in an effort to address the SACS issue.  Click here to access Dr. Speaks website and leave your own thoughts.

Nancy Jester also sent out this letter via her newsletter.  You can leave a comment on her blog, "What's Up With That?".

We would like to take this opportunity to clarify recent board actions regarding the latest letter from AdvancED/SACS to the DeKalb County School District. The AJC’s initial report was not accurate and we want to communicate to you what actions were taken by the board at our meeting on Wednesday, September 5, 2012. The Board voted to formally acknowledge receipt of the letter. The Superintendent provided a memo to board members outlining a process to develop the District’s response. The Board voted to accept her process as well.

State law only allows for meetings in executive session for a few, very specific reasons. The discussion of the letter from AdvancED/SACS is not a matter that can be discussed in executive session. Wednesday’s Board meeting was held in public and there will be no meeting of the Board regarding this matter in executive session.

After we receive the draft of the District’s response, we will request a Board meeting to hear from our fellow Board members and vote to accept/reject the draft response. This meeting will be public and all Board members will have the opportunity to discuss the District’s response letter.

Most importantly, we want to share with you that we welcome the scrutiny from AdvancED/SACS. The issues that were raised in their letter have been concerns that we have publicly discussed at Board meetings and shared with various officials. Indeed, we have been the whistle blowers regarding some of these issues. We also want to remind the public that SB84 provides for the Governor to intervene with a Board of Education without the District losing accreditation. This protects the children in our schools while providing a mechanism to correct problems within a school district.

We hope that our statement helps clarify recent events and reports. As always, let us know your thoughts and comments.

Nancy Jester
Don McChesney
Pam Speaks