23 Aug 2014
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Davis Holds Firm on Buckhead Schools

Sarah Smith asks board to table Pine Hills proposal for at least 30 days

Davis Holds Firm on Buckhead Schools

APS School Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr.'s final recommendations posted Tuesday morning make no changes to his previous proposal for the cluster.

Two controversial recommendations remain, that be "repurposed" as a sixth grade academy and that "all of Pine Hills" be redistricted from to .

The Atlanta School Board is to make a final vote Tuesday on Davis' recommendations. It meets at 2 p.m. as "a committee of the whole," then will hear public comments beginning at 6 p.m., before a legislative meeting at 7 p.m. The final vote is to be taken at the legislative meeting. The meetings will be at Jackson High School, 801 Glenwood Ave.

In the latest development, Sarah Smith's PTA co-presidents ask the school board to table the Pine Hills recommendation for at least 30 days so that the community can study the proposal sufficiently. Here is a letter to District 4 school board member Nancy Meister and Chairman Reuben McDaniel, who represents Buckhead as an at-large member.

"Dear Mr. McDaniel and Ms. Meister:
We have reviewed Ms. Meister’s email response to our letter concerning the proposed boundary change to Sarah Smith Elementary. In her response Ms. Meister declares, without furnishing any supporting data, that “[i]t is clear that the proposed boundary change will not have a significant negative impact on Sarah Smith.”   She claims to have formed this conclusion based on impromptu discussions with unnamed members of the administration and an in-house demographer within the last 24 hours. Without access to the same information, it is impossible for us to fully evaluate Ms. Meister’s conclusion. However, the information to which we have been provided access, including detailed analysis performed by independent demographers over the course of many months, leads us to a very different conclusion — that the negative impact on Sarah Smith will be significant.

This most recent exchange only serves to highlight that this process is fundamentally flawed. It is inconceivable to us that such an important decision could be made without providing the affected parents and property owners with adequate notice, timely access to pertinent data and a fair opportunity to express their views. As we pointed out in our previous letter, the first notice we received of this recommendation was in the form of a posting to the Board’s website shortly before midnight on the first Saturday of Spring Break vacation.  Since that time, APS’s offices have been open only one day, effectively allowing our parents and neighbors only 24 hours to consider this new recommendation, seek pertinent information and submit comments. We submit that this does not constitute a fair and open process. As you know, issues of much less importance are routinely subject to public review and comment for periods of weeks and months, not hours.  

Under the circumstances, we, on behalf of the Sarah Smith PTA, its parents and impacted neighbors, hereby request that each of you, as our representatives, move the Board to table this particular recommendation for a period of at least 30 days to allow our parents and neighbors a fair opportunity to evaluate the recommendation, review all pertinent data and submit appropriate comments.  Regardless of how one might view this issue, we believe that everyone deserves an open and fair process.  Please confirm that you will honor this request.
Katie ElHamahmy and B.J. Young
Sarah Smith Elementary PTA Co-Presidents

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