By John Schaffner

The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods was poised to consider Sept. 9 a resolution drafted by the chair of its education committee that would place the operation of Atlanta Public Schools up for competitive bid beginning in 2011.

Glenn Delk, who represents the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood at BCN, first talked about the resolution at the Aug. 12 meeting and asked to have it considered for a vote at the September meeting.

“I think the public has lost confidence in the Atlanta Public Schools board,” he told BCN representatives. “To reinstall that confidence, I am suggesting that you do what Los Angeles did a year ago, and that is put up 100-plus schools for competitive bid. Let [APS superintendent] Dr. [Beverly] Hall bid. Let the charter school operators bid. Let the colleges and universities bid. Let anyone bid,” he told the group.

Delk, who is an attorney, has been working with individuals and companies involved in starting up charter schools in Atlanta. But he said this resolution is in response to the charges that there was widespread cheating on the 2008 and 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in 58 of the Atlanta Public Schools.

During the Aug. 12 meeting, Delk led an effort that resulted in a unanimous vote among BCN members to pass a motion that stated: “The Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods asks that the Public Integrity Division of the Fulton County District Attorney’s office investigate the APS cheating scandal.”

Within days, Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed former state Attorney General Mike Bowers and former DeKalb County District Attorney Bob Wilson to conduct a special state investigation into the alleged test cheating.

Superintendent Hall recently issued a memo directing all Atlanta Public Schools employees to cooperate with a special state investigation into alleged test cheating “or risk being found insubordinate.”

Perdue accused Atlanta of incomplete local investigations after state officials found a high number of suspicious erasures on the 2009 CRCT. The special state investigation is expected to take months to complete.

Atlanta’s local investigative report was compiled by a commission appointed by the school board to review 58 city schools flagged by the state. It said widespread cheating appeared to be limited to 12 schools. Some problems were identified at 13 schools. It noted fewer concerns among the other 33 schools. It recommended 109 employees for further investigation.

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.