Dan Baskerville announces run for Decatur School BoardDan Baskerville is a candidate for the City Schools of Decatur School Board district two seat. Photo submitted by Dan Baskerville.
Decatur, GA — Decatur resident Dan Baskerville has announced his run for the City Schools of Decatur School Board. He is running for the District 2 seat and the election will be held on Nov. 2.
The seat is currently held by School Board member Heather Tell, Tell confirmed on June 24 that she will not be seeking another term. He will face Decatur resident Dr. Carmen Sulton for the District 2 seat. To see a map of the city’s commission and School Board districts, click here.
“The reason I decided to run for the School board, one, is I think that I could do a good job,” Baskerville told Decaturish. “I think I have the skills to do it. I think that I am really good at working and listening to people. I’m good at understanding policy and balancing it out and doing an analysis.”
He said in a statement that he is also running because he disagreed with some key decisions over the past few years, especially those of former Superintendent David Dude.
“These include: how the return to school was handled during the pandemic last school year; the recent increase in the millage rate; the overall lack of transparency; and the support for the previous Superintendent when it was clear his actions were detrimental to CSD,” Baskerville said in a statement.
Baskerville works as a lobbyist for the law firm Dentons, in the government affairs practice. He represents a variety of clients, some of them being the DeKalb County School District and DeKalb County government. He recently worked with DeKalb and Decatur schools on the annexation bill that was passed earlier this year.
“I am pleased that a deal was able to be reached this year on this matter, so now my firm’s client, DeKalb Schools, is no longer adverse to CSD, thus eliminating any conflict of interest,” Baskerville said in the statement. “Additionally, if I am elected to the Board, I would not work on any matter for this client or others, adverse to CSD.”
Baskerville has lived in Atlanta since 1997, and he moved to Decatur in 2010 with his wife and son. His son is currently a student within City Schools of Decatur. When his son was in elementary school, Baskerville served as the co-president of the parent-teacher organizations at Oakhurst and Fifth Avenue Elementary Schools.
“I’m very interested in education, kids and them getting a strong education and being treated well,” Baskerville told Decaturish.
Baskerville’s main focus is working toward a school environment that provides dignity, respect and opportunities to succeed for all students.
“That is not currently the case for too many of our children, who are being forced to leave CSD because the district is not addressing their learning needs, and those may be the more fortunate students whose parents have the means to send them to private school,” he said in a statement.
He said that some students are not getting the IEP classification or other assistance they may need, which has caused some frustration among parents.
“A number of friends, including my neighbor and the parents of one of my son’s best friends, have had to withdraw their children from their CSD school and enroll them in private school because their needs were not being met by CSD,” Baskerville said in a statement. “These are students with learning challenges, but not huge ones, not ones that CSD shouldn’t be able to address. However, these students continue to fall through the cracks. It is inexcusable and unacceptable that CSD has failed to adequately address the needs of these students.”
If elected, Baskerville hopes to establish a review process or advisory committee to look at the issue of learning challenges and how the district can be inclusive to all learners.
Another area of focus for Baskerville is the budget and figuring out ways to address learning challenges without further raising the millage rate. He’d also like to figure out how to avoid the district getting involved in so many lawsuits.
“That’s a number that nobody ever likes to put out there, but it’s usually a ridiculously huge number to think of how many taxpayer dollars are going to settle or fight these legal cases,” Baskerville told Decaturish.
City Schools of Decatur is facing three federal lawsuits and concluded the investigation of former Superintendent David Dude in May. The School Board said the investigator found no evidence of criminal conduct, but the board declined to ask the investigator to write a report about their other findings.
The investigator’s findings were never released, leaving lingering questions about what happened during Dude’s tenure and why the board decided to part ways with him.
Baskerville is advocating for more transparency surrounding the Dude investigation and said the board should figure out how to better communicate their reasoning for not releasing a report.
“The whole thing with Dr. Dude and how they decided, oh he’s resigned, we don’t need to do a report. When to me, I didn’t even see anybody from the community that thought that was a good idea,” he said. “You can give them an explanation short of attorney-client privilege, I can’t say anything, this could legally jeopardize us or something. You can figure out a way to inform the public somewhat.”
It took too long for the board to take action, Baskerville said.
“It kind of felt like that their arm was being twisted into having to do anything,” he added. “It shouldn’t have taken the community outrage for them to have taken action.”
In an effort to push for more transparency around the investigation, Baskerville said he would call on the current School Board members, especially the ones not up for election, to take a look at that and reconsider putting out more information. He is supportive of the board releasing what they legally and reasonably could.
Baskerville would also like to conduct a nationwide search for a new superintendent.
“I don’t think a search needs to happen in the first part of this year because [Superintendent Maggie Fehrman’s] just trying to get everything up and running and back to normal. She doesn’t need to deal with that right now. I also think the new board who should do it,” Baskerville said. “I think it should be a search where Dr. Fehrman, if she’s interested, is one of the candidates that can apply.”
He added the caveat that Fehrman should not be considered or should be removed before a search is completed if an issue arises that would warrant her removal.
Baskerville says there needs to be more discussion and policy debate during School Board meetings and that the board should find time during meetings to answer questions people may raise during public comment.
“I think the other [thing to accomplish] would be a thorough review of the board’s policy for transparency at board meetings and others,” Baskerville said.
He added that the School Board needs to find better ways to communicate so that the community feels that the board is being transparent.
More information about Baskerville can be found on his campaign website.
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