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Candidate Q&A – Decatur School Board At-large candidate Jana Johnson-Davis

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Candidate Q&A – Decatur School Board At-large candidate Jana Johnson-Davis

Jana Johnson-Davis. Image provided to Decaturish.

Editor’s note: Decaturish and the Tucker Observer have published an Elections Guide, a 76-page e-edition featuring Q&As with nearly every candidate running in our communities. To see it, click here. This special e-edition features candidates running for public office in Decatur, Avondale Estates, Atlanta City Council District 5, Clarkston Tucker and Stone Mountain.  There is a PDF version of this, which you can see by clicking here, but due to the format of this e-edition, we strongly encourage you to use the e-reader version.

Decaturish provided each candidate in our local races with a series of questions about local issues. Here are the answers of At-large Decatur School Board candidate Jana Johnson-Davis. She is unopposed. The answers have not been edited. 

1) Why are you running for this office?

I am running for re-election, because my work on the School Board has just begun. Obviously, the pandemic shifted a lot of the Board’s energy and attention to the health and safety of students and staff. However, there are several issues that we need to refocus on including closing the achievement gap and eliminating discipline disproportionality in CSD. These are just a couple of the issues that I look forward to continuing to work on.

2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?

I am unopposed.

3) If elected, what are your top two or three priorities?

– Ensuring a safe learning environment as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic

– Recovering the learning loss that students experienced during the pandemic

– Closing the achievement gap and eliminating discipline disproportionality

4) In your opinion, what are the most important issues facing City Schools of Decatur?

– Ensuring a safe learning environment as we continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic

– Recovering the learning loss that students experienced during the pandemic

– Closing the achievement gap and eliminating discipline disproportionality

5) Do you think the millage rate is putting a burden on homeowners? Do you think it should be lowered, remain the same or should it be increased?

I believe the School Board did everything that we could to keep the millage rate as low as possible, while also ensuring that we have the funding needed to provide the best education for our students. Returning to in-person learning, after most students have been virtual for a year and a half, has presented some unique challenges. Our students need a different level of support now, and we cannot not afford to cut back on any resources during this critical time.

6) What will you do to advance equity and racial justice in City Schools of Decatur? 

I will continue to be the voice of students who have historically been marginalized in CSD. I will continue to champion the use of restorative practices and positive behavioral interventions and supports. Furthermore, I will continue to advocate for culturally responsive teaching. There are some who believe that these practices only support specific “subgroups” in the district. However, all students benefit from practices and instruction that recognize their humanity.

7) What is your opinion of the school district’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies? Do you think the district is doing enough to protect students and staff? What do you think of the school district’s decision to mandate vaccines for students and staff? (Editor’s note: After Decaturish received the candidates’ Q&As, the school district determined it can’t mandate vaccines for students.)

I believe that the district is doing everything we possibly can to keep our students and staff safe. Vaccinations are our best mitigation strategy, which is why I support mandatory vaccinations for eligible students and staff. We already have vaccinations that are mandated for students. Given the severity of the pandemic and the highly contagious nature of the Delta variant, it seems irresponsible to not require the vaccine.

8) What is your opinion of how the School Board handled the investigation of the previous superintendent, David Dude? If elected, would you advocate for releasing a full report about the investigator’s findings?

I regret that legal restraints have prevented the School Board from not being able to disclose more information to the community concerning the investigation.

9) What is your opinion of the district’s current superintendent, Maggie Fehrman?

I think Dr. Fehrman is doing everything she can to ensure the best outcomes for CSD’s students.

10) The School Board next year will likely be searching for a permanent replacement for David Dude. What are the qualities you would like to see in CSD’s next superintendent?

I think a superintendent should be accessible, transparent, and culturally competent.

11) What is CSD’s greatest strength?

CSD’s greatest strength is our teachers, parents, and students. The CSD community is our greatest strength.

12) What is CSD’s biggest challenge?

CDS’s biggest challenge is how we discuss race and racism in a political environment that wants to avoid the acknowledgement of racism and its impact on the educational outcomes of students of color.

13) How would you address what you believe to be CSD’s biggest challenge?

I will continue to advocate for anti-racist instruction and decolonized curriculum.

14) If you are elected, what will you do to help students and families who have special needs and individualized education plans?

As a former special education teacher, students with special needs remain a priority. I will continue to push for students with IEP’s to have access to the resources and instruction that they need to reach their highest potential.

15) Do you support CSD’s current policy allowing transgender students to use facilities that correspond to their gender identities?

Transgender students should be allowed to use facilities that correspond to the gender that they self-identify.

16) If you are elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? How would you work to promote ethics and transparency in government?

I always conduct myself in an ethical and transparent manner, and I will continue to advocate for CSD stakeholders to have access to the information they need to ensure the best outcomes for our students.

More information about voting in the Nov. 2 election: 

All elections coverage can be found at Decaturishvotes.com and Tuckerobservervotes.com.  

Election Day is Nov. 2. Early voting will begin on Oct. 12 and will end on Oct. 29. The voter registration deadline is Oct. 4. To register to vote, click here.

To see a list of important dates in the 2021 election year, click here.

Voters in DeKalb County are eligible to apply for an absentee ballot as of Aug. 16. 

To apply for an absentee ballot:

— Visit the Georgia Secretary of State website.

—  Complete the absentee ballot application using the state’s official paper form. Use black or blue ink only.

Applications can be mailed to the county elections office at this address: DeKalb County Election office, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA 30032-1239.

Applications can also be submitted by fax, 404-298-4038, or email, [email protected]

Voters may send an absentee ballot request for multiple people who live in the same household in the same envelope or email.

If an absentee ballot is not mailed to you, call DeKalb Elections office, 404-298-4020. You may still vote in person, either early or on Election Day.

An absentee ballot application must be received by Oct. 22.

In accordance with SB202, a new voting bill signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in March, a copy of a voter’s ID is required to apply for an absentee ballot. A Georgia driver’s license, Georgia state ID, Georgia voter card, U.S. Passport, U.S. military ID, employee ID issued by any branch of the federal or state government, tribal ID, or a document verifying a voter’s name and address – including a paycheck, utility bill, or bank statement – are accepted forms of ID.

Early voting begins Oct. 12 and ends Oct. 29. The hours for early voting are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be weekend early voting on Oct. 16, 17, 23 and 24. Call your elections office for hours.

Beginning Oct. 12, you can participate in early voting at the following locations: 

– Bessie Branham Recreation Center (2051 Delano Drive NE, Atlanta, GA 30317)

– Lynwood Recreation Center (3360 Osborne Road NE, Brookhaven, GA 30319)

– Berean Christian Church – Family Life Center (2197 Young Road, Stone Mountain, GA 30088)

– DeKalb Voter Registration & Elections Office (4380 Memorial Drive, Suite 300, Decatur, GA 30032)

– Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library (5234 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084)

– Stonecrest Library (3123 Klondike Road, Stonecrest, GA 30038)

– County Line-Ellenwood Library (4331 River Road, Ellenwood, GA 30294)

– Dunwoody Library (5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road., Dunwoody, GA 30338)

For the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding early voting times and locations, visit Decaturishvotes.com and Tuckerobservervotes.com or call 404-298-4020.  

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