Will DeKalb County become a public charter school system? School officials are pondering the idea and want feedback from the public to approach state officials about making the
The school district would become the largest charter school system in the sate, if the district’s petition is approved by the Georgia Department of Education.
“We want to get the public’s input on how we can make the petition for charter schools suitable for all parties involved—school staff members, parents, and of course, our students,” said DeKalb Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond. “I think this concept is innovative and I know it will have tremendous potential for our students and their development.”
District officials are seeking input from the community on the
Former School Board member Jesse Cunningham says the flexibility can lead to innovations in teaching students and governing schools.
“The new system would be a good thing. If DeKalb goes to the charter system, schools would have more latitude on rules governing them. Schools could have their own committees comprised of principals and who the principals elect to make decision for the schools in their cluster,” said Cunningham. “For example, if MLK High saw a need for Saturday school, they would go to their principal and get it approved. It wouldn’t have to be approved by the state (Department of Education).”
In 2013, the DeKalb School Board rejected a group of parents and educators who were seeking approval and funding for a “charter cluster” for Druid Hills High School and six feeder schools in North DeKalb. The board rejected the idea, saying that the cluster would drain money and resources from the district and could prevent some students who live in the community from attending based on criteria set up by cluster organizers.
The DeKalb Schools District has set up five community engagement sessions, and anyone seeking to provide input is invited to attend, including parents, teachers and others in the community.
In the past, the charter cluster concept has been greeted with enthusiasm in North DeKalb, where there is a history of frustration with the management of the DeKalb Schools District. But it has created suspicion in South DeKalb, where graduation rates are lower.
John Evans, president of the DeKalb branch of the NAACP, says he wouldn’t mind supporting a charter school system, as long as the charter system is truly a fair system for all DeKalb students.
“We need to come out to the meetings in numbers to get the fine print on where the funding is coming from for this new system, what this really means and how will everyone benefit. Core curriculum and everything else has to be fair across the board,” said Evans. “There’s always a hook and
The Georgia charter schools law provides the means to organize a charter public school subject to an academic or vocational performance-based contract approved by both the state and local boards of education.
A group of people (educators, parents, community leaders, or others) writes the