Several DeKalb parents have filed an injunction in efforts to try to stop the DeKalb County School System from closing eight schools, most of which are in South DeKalb.
The injunction was filed by Latasha Walker, Kim Ault, Kendall London and Anette Davis Jackson, several hours before the school board made its final vote to adopt interim Superintendent Ramon Tyson’s redistricting plan on March 7.
John Evans, vice-president of the DeKalb NAACP, was also on the list of plaintiffs but said he never agreed to it and his name was placed on the document without his knowledge.
Jackson, one of the plaintiffs, said there were several reasons they want to put a hold on the school closures, one being that the majority of schools slated to close are located in south DeKalb.
“The school district is saying they’re closing schools due to lack of enrollment and they kind of put it on these south side schools,” Jackson said. She stressed that the reason these schools have such low enrollment is because they’ve been neglected and this causes many parents to send their children elsewhere.
Jackson cited The DeKalb School of the Arts as an example of a low-enrollment school that is still high-performing.
“How do you get a high performing, functioning school with a low student base to be so great? It’s the teachers and the administration. So, DeKalb County Schools need to figure out the proper formula so that all DeKalb schools can be great,” Jackson said.
Board member Donna Edler fought hard during the meeting to try to keep some of the proposed schools open and said that she stands behind the board’s decision but wishes they could have met more openly and frequently to discuss the redistricting plan.
“I stand behind that final vote…but this is the only opportunity that the board [had] to discuss this plan as a board in total. I didn’t think it was sufficient,” Edler said about the March 7 vote.
The injunction states that “the county listens in public meetings, however, they as a district, fail to listen and proactively implement concerns,” a statement that DeKalb County School Board Chairman Tom Bowen said is untrue.
Bowen said that the board and Tyson did take residents’ concerns into consideration in the months leading up to the final vote but no matter what they did it would have been impossible to come up with a plan that made everybody happy.
“I know that there are a lot of people out there who are unhappy, who feel that the plan didn’t go the way they [wanted] it to go but we’ve invested literally thousands of hours to follow this process that MGT has used all across the country,” Bowen said.
MGT of America is the consulting firm that developed the original redistricting plan that called for 14 school closures. Interim Superintendent Tyson then put forth her own plan, taking MGT’s recommendations into consideration and paring the list down to eight schools.
“We don’t believe anything will happen as a result of the injunction and we’re comfortable with what we’ve done—the process and the product—but I don’t want to diminish the fact that they’re fully entitled to any injunction to the extent that it’s appropriate,” Bowen said.