Dunwoody parents are organizing a new nonprofit to address concerns about the DeKalb County school system.
“Why do we exist? To take care of our children,” said Allegra Johnson, president of the newly formed Dunwoody Parents Concerned about Quality Education and parent of three children in Dunwoody schools.
Meanwhile, the board of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association voted unanimously March 3 to support legislation allowing young cities to create their own school systems. The DHA board also asked Dunwoody City Council to pay for a state-mandated study of the new system and its effect on DeKalb County schools.
The actions follow an accreditation agency’s decision to put DeKalb’s countywide school system on probation because of governance issues involving the county school board. Gov. Nathan Deal has said he will remove six board members, but the DeKalb board is challenging in federal court the law that allows the governor to take such action.
On March 3, more than 275 people gathered at Kingswood United Methodist Church in Dunwoody for the first public meeting sponsored by the Dunwoody Parents Concerned about Quality Education. Members of Dunwoody City Council and state lawmakers representing the area attended the meeting.
Those attending heard presentations and asked questions about the accreditation probation and about the legislative proposal calling for a constitutional amendment to allow Dunwoody and some other cities to form their own school systems.
State Sen. Fran Millar told the group that state officials are working to keep the DeKalb school district from losing its accreditation.
“I think the steps are being taken,” Millar said. “I think we’re doing the right things at this point. … I am comfortable that if the courts do not mess this up, we are not going to lose accreditation.”
Rep. Tom Taylor, the Dunwoody Republican who introduced the legislation, told the parents group and the DHA board the proposal would allow cities created since 2005 to start their own schools or to start systems in combination with other new cities or contiguous cities, such as, in the case of Dunwoody, Brookhaven or Sandy Spring.
He admitted the proposal faced long odds in the Legislature. “This is an uphill battle,” he told the DHA board.
He said he limited the creation of new school systems to cities started since 2005 and contiguous cities in hopes of improving the proposal’s chances. “If you hold this statewide, it’s dead on arrival,” he said. “If you limit it, there’s an opportunity.”