My comments to the Superintendent regarding the SACS letter

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.


AdvancedED / SACS Letter – Our Thoughts

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

BUSINESS MEETING 8/13/2012 – 6:00 PM

Meeting Agenda ( Agenda Online)


  1. Budget, Audit, Finance & Facilities Committee
  2. Business, Community & Government Relations Committee
  3. Instruction Committee
  4. Policy Committee


  1. First Day of School


  1. Approval of Human Resources Monthly Report


  1. Approval of Minutes
  2. Approval of Financial Monthly Report
  3. Junior Achievement (JA) “BizTown” Program
  4. The Globe Academy, Inc.
  5. Purchase of Pearson School Achievement Services for 2012 – 2013
    • Purchase of Pearson School Achievement Services for Clarkston High School 2012-2013
    • Purchase of Pearson School Achievement Services for McNair High School 2012-2013
    • Purchase of Pearson School Achievement Services for Towers High School 2012-2013
    • Purchase of Pearson School Achievement Services for Freedom Middle School 2012-2013
  6. CaseNex Contracts
    • CaseNex Contract for 2012-2013 Gifted Endorsement Courses for K-12 Teachers
    • CaseNex Professional Development Extension Agreement
  7. Extension of RFP 11-187 for Speech-Language Therapy Services
  8. Contract between DeKalb County School District and Sign Language Interpreting Specialists (SLIS)
  9. MAXIMUS TIENET® Software Maintenance and Hosting Agreement Renewal
  10. CrossPointe Software Annual Maintenance
  11. Approval of HVAC Instrumentation and Controls – New Chamblee Charter High School Replacement Project
  12. Emergency Generator Group 1- Installation Only Contract Award Approval
  13. Martin Luther King Jr. High School Construction Material Testing, Special Inspections, and NPDES Compliance Services Contract Award
  14. Fire Alarm and Fire Suppression Systems Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance Contract Extension Approval
  15. System-Wide Imaging Solution Contract Extension Approval
  16. Approval for Vendors to Exceed $100,000.00
  17. Portable Classroom Relocation Services Contract Extension Approval
  18. SPLOST IV Capital Improvement Plan Budget Allocation (422)

H. OTHER\BOARD COMMENTS (2 minutes each)

The election results for Super District 8

A heartfelt thank you to my supporters for making it to the polls to vote. I promise to continue the difficult work ahead to ensure a quality education for ALL children and to restore fiscal stability to the school district. I am so grateful that you did not let the attempts of my opponent to further divide this county prevail.

Thank You,
Pam Speaks

My Opponent

Who has seen or heard from Ms. Mimi Clark? Where does she stand on any issue? Apparently nowhere. Ms. Mimi has not attended any of the scheduled forums to boldly stand up and address constituents to inform them of her views and answer their questions. Her only contact has been to place robo calls and send out mailers pitting Democrat vs. Republican. Her mailers and robo calls are devisive, sophomoric and just plain incorrect! Has anyone told Ms. Mimi that the school board race is a non-partisan race? My allegiance as a Board of Education representative is not to a particular political party but instead my allegiance is to children. Do you want a school board member who is divisive, sophomoric and just can’t get her facts straight representing you or your children? I shudder the thought.

Vote for Pam Speaks on Tuesday, July 31st.

DeKalb County School District – Budget 2012 – 2013

The budget passed on June 21, 2012 with the general fund budget set for $760 million with $8 million to be set aside for the depleted reserves. The following highlights of the budget include but are not limited to: a 1 mil tax increase, 2 additional furlough days for employees, an increase in class size (2) students in both regular and special education, the loss of 200 paraprofessionals and the loss of 20 interpreters. I stated at the meeting that budget cuts hurt as they do when you cut your finger. We don’t want to cut but we must because we are simply out of money!

Inquiry: Paul Womack, District 4 BOE representative and budget committee chairman asked “state investigating agencies” to launch a criminal investigation into the overspending that has taken place in past years. For example, during the past 2 years the district has spent nearly $60 million beyond what the BOE planned. The BOE approved a $775 million budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year but spent $808 million. Mr. Womack contends such deep cuts that have to now be made would be unnecessary had spending levels mandated by the board in prior years been honored. Dr. Atkinson has called for a forensic audit to take place to be completed I believe a short time after the school year begins. Mr. Womack has a point but so as to not have a costly duplication of efforts, I propose we wait for the audit results.

Click on “Leave a comment” (top right) and let me know what you think.

Pam Speaks