Michael Thurmond Photobombs Himself.

Kudos to Johnny Crawford at the AJC for this photo:


Seriously, is that the image of a dynamic leader capable of closing the academic achievement gap, the financial gap, and credibility gap of a troubled school system that’s on the verge of losing accreditation? Or does it look like a little kid who knows he’s not supposed to be sitting in a big boy chair yet?

Michael Thurmond, the temporary interim Superintendent of the DeKalb School System, “told state lawmakers that he will be the sole person making next week’s presentation to the state Board of Education – which will then decide whether to remove all nine members of the local board.” Well, isn’t that a relief! The person currently in charge of running the 3rd-largest school system in Georgia will go to the State Board of Education to argue that the people who hired him should keep their positions -because they have done such a good job in hiring him. This is idiocy on stilts.

The State Board of Education is not evaluating whether Mr. Thurmond should keep his job. They are charged with recommending whether the nine members of the DeKalb School Board should keep theirs. The DeKalb School Board is unable to articulate any argument in their own defense, and instead have chosen a glad-handing mouthpiece to appear in their place. Hiring Thurmond as a Superintendent with zero experience in public education raised some questions about the DeKalb School Board’s collective judgement. But sending him to argue before the BOE answered those questions. They can’t make the case for keeping their own jobs.

Which should tell the State Board of Education all they need to know.


  1. bgsmallz says:

    Somewhere along the way, many politicians lose a certain sense of reality and shrug off common sense in favor of their own self-assurance that they can win any popularity contest. On the other hand, lawyers don’t care much about ‘common sense’ so long as there is a client willing to pay them to argue against it. There is no way Mr. Thurmond should have taken this job if he was truly interested in the administration of the DeKalb School system because he has to know the taint of this board would forever be on him. So…did he lose track of reality or is he basically a glorified lobbyist/attorney/mouthpiece for the board? I assume it’s the latter.

    #1- I’d like to see his contract. Does anyone have it?
    #2- He was sworn in and started his job on Saturday….someone should open records request his meeting schedule, emails, and documents produced on county computers over this week and a half…my guess is that 80% will be regarding the board hearing and maybe 20% will be actually learning how to be…you know…a superintendent.

    The majority of the issues stated by SACS were issues related to the Board. If Mr. Thurmond is truly interested in saving our schools, his first public meeting would have been a smackdown on board members for their actions and a call for John the Baptist style repentance…instead, it was a public plea to save them from the consequences of their actions. Shameful for everyone involved in this fiasco. The governor can’t clean house soon enough.

    • ryanhawk says:

      Sometimes you have to eat a sack of !#$%!# and then publicly exclaim how good it tastes to make things work in the political arena. Perhaps this is exactly what Thurmond is doing?

      Do you completely discount the possibility that Thurmond has delivered a private smackdown to the board and that one of the things he told them (or a subset of them) was to STFU and stop stirring the pot in public?

        • ryanhawk says:

          If if was done it would have been done before he was hired and as a necessary condition for his accepting the job. This would not be unusual at all in turnaround situation where board members or executives could not be quickly or easily dispatched but can be silenced and sidelined. I would think their looming removal would motivate the more recalcitrant board members to act in this way, at least temporarily.

          • bgsmallz says:

            #1- Eugene Walker and many of the other board members were publicly flogged by the SACS report and the response was ‘there is nothing in there that is egregious’. They showed zero remorse in their first appearance before the board. The only board members that have been willing to discuss the board’s failings in public both voted against the hire. In a nutshell, the idea that he called them out before they hired him is preposterous.

            #2- The mere fact that you are talking about a superintendent privately rebuking the board as an acceptable option makes me think that you don’t quite understand the issue at the heart of the board’s and the district’s failings…namely, a complete and utter lack of transparency and knowledge of who the stakeholders are. The trust has been broken with the taxpayer, the parent, and the student. If you or Mr. Thurmond think that a private airing of grievances will do anything to repair the complete destruction of public trust, then I suggest that you are all completing missing the problem.

            • ryanhawk says:

              “The only board members that have been willing to discuss the board’s failings in public both voted against the hire”. But that is consistent with my theory is it not? Of course he would not tell Nancy to shut up since she isn’t the problem, but rather the primary whistleblower pointing to basic problems that need to be rectified.

              As to “acceptable” options, I’d say go with the option that has a chance of doing some good. Bringing in a bombastic Super who publicly trashes the board (or anyone else) isn’t going to work — such a person would never be hired in the first place, and would only cause more problems with accreditation, public relations, the state board, etc….

              What are the better options? I am genuinely interested in your view.

              • bgsmallz says:

                So your view is that the 7 voted for him because he told them they were idiots and the 2 voted against them because he agrees with them but kept that a secret because they aren’t the problem?

                Being realistic isn’t being bombastic. Oh..and by the way, if the new super isn’t willing to publicly trash the board, how in the wide world of sports is the new super going to implement the changes required by the SACS report that…wait for it…publicly trashes the board!?! I love this line of thought…”He’s going to fix the problems in the report….but he just can’t talk about that in public because it will make the board look bad.” Yeesh.

                Better options?

                How about listening to your stakeholders instead of flailing at any solution to keep your job? There was an overwhelming voice from parents, community leaders, tax payers, etc. NOT to hire an interim super. Did they hold one meeting for public input? No. Instead, they had two weeks of discussions behind closed doors, ignoring the voices of those they are supposed to be serving.

                They will be removed. So will Mr. Thurmond. Frankly, the process over the last week was all the evidence the state Board needed to see that these ‘public servants’ either didn’t understand the issues presented by SACS or can’t understand them…either way, they are toast.

                • ryanhawk says:

                  Thanks for sharing. I don’t think it will play out the way you envision with both the Board and Thurmond being removed. I doubt anyone is removed at this point.

                  Whether they are removed or not, the real problems will remain, and even Superman won’t be able to fix them. I think the idea you’ve been pushing of allowing more city school systems is an excellent idea that would do much more to help students in Dekalb.

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    I don’t mean to be too argumentative. It’s a subject that fires me up, obviously, and it’s hard to stay on task in hypotheticals. Bottom line…IMO this just smells more like hiring a mouthpiece than a superintendent.

                    Agree 100%…more than just removing the board needs to be done. But based upon the SACS report, removing the current board is the necessary first step.

                    I’m hopeful that the same reps that talked a big game about charter schools being the first step (see Buzz and Ed Lindsey for exhibit 1a and 1b) get behind Rep. Taylor’s bill to amend the Constitution to allow for city school districts. My fear is that some will claim ‘education’ or ‘DeKalb’ fatigue and let that bill die. If I’m not mistaken, Buzz said on this site that he would support an amendment to the GA Constitution to allow city schools…I’d actually love to see him co-sponsor the bill!

  2. Spacey G says:

    They’re trying to dupe over the Erroll B. Davis Help Us Now You’re Our Only Hope APS plan. Maybe they should just clone Erroll B. Davis, as he seems to be the only education leader in Georgia who can actually lead stuff.

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