21013 Press Release: Parent Councils in DeKalb County Unite

May 1, 2013

Contact: Allyson Gevertz

Leaders of all DeKalb Parent Councils Meet

This week, the executive boards of all DeKalb County parent councils met for a parent summit. Leaders of Dunwoody Chamblee Parent Council, Emory LaVista Parent Council, South DeKalb Parent Council, Tucker Parent Council, and Cross Keys Cluster attended the meeting, which was held at the Mary Gay House in downtown Decatur.

When the DeKalb County School District was going through turmoil associated with the replacement of the Board of Education members, parent leaders mobilized. Education advocates from all parts of DeKalb began discussing the need for unification as they watched the State Board of Education hearings, attended Restore DeKalb meetings, and met at various County events. During that crisis time, parents realized that they all wanted the same thing for their children: a quality public education in DeKalb County. Parent leaders planned the parent summit in hopes of building bridges and increasing communication among parents from different part of DeKalb.

At the meeting, the group discussed the strengths and challenges facing the schools of DeKalb. Parents across the County acknowledged that parent engagement is a major issue. Leaders exchanged ideas regarding potential events, programs, and communications that might increase parent participation. The group (tentatively called Parent Councils United or PCU) decided that holding regular PCU meetings would help keep communication open across the County. Parents voiced concern regarding the 2014 school board elections and a desire to have high quality candidates on the ballot. Encouraging qualified individuals to run for office, hosting events where the public can meet candidates, and educating the electorate on the importance of BOE elections will be important tasks for PCU over the next year. The group plans to meet again in August.

One issue that was not distressing to parents at the meeting is DeKalb County School District’s accreditation. Attendees voiced confidence in Superintendent Thurmond’s efforts to address SACS’s concerns and point the system in the right direction. Parent leaders also discussed the change in tone at Board of Education meetings; the current board members appear to work well with each other and with Michael Thurmond. After a long period of frustration and anger, parents are beginning to feel hopeful and optimistic. Leaders of DeKalb’s parent councils plan to work with the school district while advocating for every student in DeKalb County.