The Dekalb County School board still has work to do to be a functioning governing agency for the students in the district.

In a Monitoring Review Report released on Friday, January 20, by the non-profit Cognia, Dekalb County Schools was given specific recommendations to address findings related to Board Governance after meeting with key district staff and reviewing over 20 hours of school board meetings, work sessions, and called meetings.

This report comes months after former Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris was terminated, after the debacle of the Druid Hills renovations and the students’ now-viral video went public.

The significant findings for concern came regarding the district’s progress toward standard 1.5, which directly states, “the governing authority adheres to a code of ethics and functions within defined roles and responsibilities.”

Some of the areas of concern outlined in the report include: the board members’ need to work collectively in support of the mission of DCSD, and the implementation and support for governance responsibilities assigned to the Board were inconsistent across all board member interviews.

According to the report, “decisions to hire/dismiss superintendents have never been unanimous. Several board members felt left out of the discussions and were unaware of specific items placed on the Board’s agenda for action. Several board members interviewed indicated that “silos” exist among the Board and that
some board members meet regularly to plan and discuss what should be the focus of the full board discussion.”

In the Cognia report, there were interviews across the district with 21 school administrators randomly selected from each of the seven regions. Administrators indicated that board meetings are “fractious and tense” and “unpredictable” and wished for a more collaborative spirit among board members. The report specifically outlined that some administrators said the board meetings are “hard to watch, very combative, uneasy that some kind of rant is going to happen.”

In October 2022 board retreat was held to review the results from the most recent Board Self-Assessment developed and provided by the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA). Unfortunately, only six of the current seven board members attended, and only five were available for the debriefing. Although, during the debrief, board members responded to the findings as the report was “riddled with untruth,” the Board Chair remarked that “it [report] was shocking to me.” The report concluded that the Board “has not fully embraced the concepts of the leadership roles of the board members.”

According to the report, “the meeting ended with no further action or discussion of plans to address the information gathered from the

Cognia gave five directives for Dekalb County Schools to immediately address with them scheduling and hosting another Monitoring Review by December 2023.

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