Dunwoody city officials are expected to meet later this week with representatives of the DeKalb County School District to discuss the issue of trailers being placed in front of Dunwoody High School following strong public criticism from DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester.
Jester, who lives in Dunwoody, blasted Dunwoody officials in an email to the mayor and City Council, on Facebook and in an email to constituents for allowing the trailers to be installed at the school without the city first reviewing the plans.
“My email addressed what I consider to be deficiencies in the city’s enforcement of city ordinances/code,” Jester wrote. “Specifically, I am concerned about the lack of plan review, inspections, and permitting for the trailers/portable classrooms that have recently been placed in front of Dunwoody High School.”
The trailers were placed in front of DHS over Spring Break and were being installed on April 9, the same day as the 6th Congressional District candidate forum, with one trailer sitting in the parking lot.
City spokesperson Bob Mullen said city staff will be speaking with DeKalb County School District officials this week.
“City staff is reviewing the matter of DeKalb County Schools recently placing manufactured buildings or trailers on school property in Dunwoody,” Mullen said in an email.
“Staff reached out to DeKalb County School System representatives and scheduled a meeting for later this week to further review the subject. The primary goals of the meeting are to work cooperatively, establish a mutual understanding of obligations and determine appropriate next steps for both entities going forward,” Mullen added.
Mullen did not respond to a request for a statement about Jester’s comments.
Councilmember Terry Nall, who Jester singled out in her vocal criticism of city officials, said he was disappointed in Jester’s public “attack” against the city.
“Not since the days of former DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones has our Dunwoody area been under attack by a sitting, elected DeKalb County official. I thought those days were behind us,” Nall said in a statement.
Dunwoody adheres to its obligations as a city. Any claim or suggestion by Commissioner Jester to the contrary is simply incorrect,” he said.
Nancy Jester is married to Stan Jester, who serves on the DeKalb County Board of Education.
The Jesters are vocally opposed to the Dunwoody High School expansion to deal with overcrowding at DHS. Stan Jester voted against the measure in December when the BOE approved projects, including a 600-seat expansion at DHS, for E-SPLOST funds. Nancy Jester has denounced the Board of Education’s spending money to expand DHS as well.
DeKalb County schools issued a statement April 18 stating they will be working with Dunwoody to clarify regulations.
“Per the District’s standard practice for building additions or renovations, including the installation of portable classrooms, the DeKalb County School District works collaboratively with the cities and the county via their various permitting processes,” the statement reads.
“We will be meeting collaboratively with the city of Dunwoody staff later this week to clarify next actions related to their permitting and review process for the portable classrooms at Dunwoody High School.”
The official response issued last week from DeKalb schools about the trailers being added to Dunwoody High School:
New portable classroom units were installed at Dunwoody High School the week of April 3, due to over-capacity issues at the school and to replace the four aging single classroom units at the rear of the school.
The school is currently 317 students over capacity and is expected to add 200+ students over the next four years.
The two four-classroom units, which were brought directly from the manufacturer’s plant, will accommodate 224 students total, or 28 students per classroom.
While two large pines did have to be removed to place the units in their current location, the units were located on the property where they would least impact school activities and to alleviate the possibility of negatively impacting the football or baseball fields, the tennis courts, or student and staff parking.