DeKalb Super releases statement on charter cluster meetingMichael Thurmond. File photo obtained via Reporter Newspapers
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond has sent Decaturish a statement regarding a meeting that he had with representatives of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster group.
The statement provides no direct rebuttal to a summary of the Feb. 4 meeting that was relayed by a charter cluster representative who attended.
“The primary purpose of the meeting was to establish a foundation of mutual respect and understanding between the administration of the DeKalb County School District and petitioners,” Thurmond’s statement says. “The two-hour meeting was respectful, open, and honest.”
Thurmond’s statement concludes on a hopeful note.
“The Druid Hills charter cluster petitioners were encouraged to resubmit a petition that addresses the specific concerns raised by the District Charter Office and a majority of the members of the Board of Education,” Thurmond said. “Moving forward, I am hopeful that the petitioners and the DCSD will be able to work in a collaborative manner that will ultimately benefit all of our students and parents.”
Charter Cluster members who left the meeting found less reason for optimism.
The summary of the meeting was provided to a person affiliated with the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce by a charter cluster representative who attended that meeting. Members of the Chamber have been working behind the scenes mediate the charter cluster discussions, according to several people familiar with the matter.
According to the summary, Thurmond remains opposed to the charter cluster idea and “likened to the hard fight for change that occurred in Selma.”
There apparently is no recording of the meeting, which was attended by Thurmond, Jose Boza, who oversees charter schools for DeKalb County Schools, and Kathleen Mathers, Fred Daniels, and Dave Roberts with DHCC.
“Within the first five minutes, they knew the conversation would not be productive,” the summary says.
To read a full recounting of that meeting, from the perspective of the Druid Hills Charter Cluster members, click here.
Here is Thurmond’s full statement:
On February 4, 2015, I invited three Druid Hills Charter Cluster leaders to meet with me and the director of the District Charter Office. The primary purpose of the meeting was to establish a foundation of mutual respect and understanding between the administration of the DeKalb County School District and petitioners. The two-hour meeting was respectful, open, and honest.
In addition, we wanted to clarify the District’s official charter petition process, a process that has been in place for more than a decade.
It is important to note that the Superintendent has no authority to ‘grant’ a charter petition application. The DeKalb County Board of Education has the sole power and authority to approve or reject petitions. The Superintendent recommends action to the Board based on analysis and evaluation by the charter staff.
The Druid Hills charter cluster petitioners were encouraged to resubmit a petition that addresses the specific concerns raised by the District Charter Office and a majority of the members of the Board of Education. Moving forward, I am hopeful that the petitioners and the DCSD will be able to work in a collaborative manner that will ultimately benefit all of our students and parents.
Michael L. Thurmond
DeKalb County School District
Since the charter cluster effort crumbled, former supporters – most notably Druid Hills Charter Cluster Chairman Matthew Lewis – have joined Together in Atlanta. TIA is pushing a proposal to annex Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools, as well as Druid Hills High, into the city of Atlanta. It would also include Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The charter cluster would’ve encompassed seven schools – Avondale Elementary, Briar Vista Elementary, Fernbank Elementary, Laurel Ridge Elementary, McLendon Elementary, Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School. The idea of three of those schools moving into Atlanta and becoming part of the city’s school system has created angst for parents of the other schools in the cluster that feed into Druid Hills High. It’s not clear where these students would attend school if Druid Hills High became a part of Atlanta.