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Category Archives: Legal Issues
February 27, 2012: DeKalb House Delegation met today at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building — where the Environmental Committee (including Rep. Drenner) presented their findings on cell phone towers. Rep. Drenner obtained the remaining signatures needed to support the introduction of the bill.
WSBTV Ch2 was there and reported: Renting school space for cell towers idea sparks debate
Several School Board Policies Violated by Lease to T-Mobile
In their complicity with private companies like T-Mobile the DeKalb County School Board has of course stepped outside their purview — but in doing so they’ve even run afoul of their own posted policies. If the School Board can put a potentially dangerous 150′ cell tower 192′ feet from the front door of a school for special needs children, what else can they do with public property without our knowledge or notice?
On the heels of the grand jury recommendation to convene a special investigation into the DeKalb County School Board, Superintendent Atkinson removed the CFO from his duties. Let’s not forget, the School Board is still operating under a cloud of suspicion raised after four indictments and continued investigations into the workings of the School Board.
Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk was reassigned, a system spokesman confirmed Thursday. (more…)
*** FULL TEXT OF GRAND JURY RECOMMENDATION HERE *** BREAKING NEWS! A grand jury calls for special investigation of the DeKalb County School Board. In part:
“Recommendation for a Special Grand Jury: Although we have received answers to questions posed to Dr. Cheryl Atkinson, Ms. Ramona Tyson, and Mr. Thomas Bowen, it is clear that the School System remains topheavy and suffers from a perception of conflicts of interest and waste. The citizens of DeKalb County invest a significant portion of their tax dollars in the DeKalb County School System. The perceived effectiveness of the DeKalb County School System also has a significant impact on property values of all homeowners in DeKalb County. In addition, there is the greatest concern for the education of the children of DeKalb County. The DeKalb County School System has been declining in many rankings as compared to other Metro Atlanta school systems as well as various national evaluation methods. We recommend that a Special Grand Jury be convened to investigate the DeKalb County SchoolBoard.” (more…)
Dr. Atkinson thoughtfully sent each of us who spoke at last Monday’s School Board meeting a letter outlining her assertions that the School Board provided notice to the community of Briarcliff Heights. I will cut to the text that appears in most the letters:
“After much discussion and receipt of public input, the Board of Education voted to approve the placement of T-Mobile cell towers on properties owned by the DeKalb County School District. Over a period of time between 2010 and 2011, three presentations regarding cell towers were made during Budget, Finance, and Facilities Committee meetings. These meetings were announced and open to the public. Prior to the vote in July, public information sessions were advertised and held at each site slated to receive a cell tower. Citizens provided comments and information regarding cell towers during televised Board meetings in June and July. The AJC and other local newspapers provided press coverage regarding the issue. Finally, before the final vote was taken on July 11, 2011 during the monthly Board meeting, the Board of Education held an extensive discussion regarding placement of cell towers on school properties.”
We just learned today that the Margaret Harris contract was signed by the School Board on December 1, 2011 and countersigned by T-Mobile on December 8, 2011.
By Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson and Board of Education Chairman Thomas E. Bowen.
Detailed plans for the site: Exhibit B Margaret Harris
Requested an electronic copy of any and all signed contract(s) between the Dekalb County School System/Dekalb County Board of Education and T-Mobile, specifically with regard to the Margaret Harris Comprehensive School.
Especially considering that DeKalb County voters overwhelmingly voted 63 to 37% in favor SPLOST, a tax levied especially for DeKalb County Schools to “generate $475 million for dozens of capital projects, including new buildings, new roofs, air-conditioning systems, even smart boards in every classroom. ”
There’s no shortage in the education budget for DeKalb County. The SPLOST program, which runs from 2007-2012, is expected to raise $513.4 million. What’s this $2.5 M over 30 years contract for?
These cell phone contracts are paltry amounts of money in exchange for an endangerment of students and residents, as well as an encumbrance of our property.
Which schools are really going to get the money? What happens when DeKalb County decides to close any one of these schools in the next three decades?
We couldn’t get any more answers about the contract at Monday’s School Board Meeting. Yesterday, Briarcliff Heights resident and attorney Joe Staley sent the following Open Records request to the School Board to try and get to the bottom of what is actually in the T-Mobile contract, who would sign it, and if it’s even signed yet….