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DeKalb Schools up for grand jury investigation

7:43 PM, Dec 30, 2011   |    comments
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DeKalb District Attorney Robert James considers Special Grand Jury to investigate DeKalb County Schools.

DECATUR - We may finally get some answers as to what's been going on inside the DeKalb County School System over the years. It's been plagued with controversy and now a Special Grand Jury could investigate.

The recommendation is in a recent report returned from the fall sitting of the Grand Jury in DeKalb County. They started asking questions about what's been going on inside the school district and "weren't satisfied with the answers they got from former and current administrators".

Neither were we, when we started asking questions, last fall, about the new superintendents job application. In it, Cheryl Atkinson indicated she had never been named as a defendant in a lawsuit. However, we discovered she was named as a defendant in a bankruptcy suit in 1998.

We asked why she had answered "no" to the question but never got a response from her or from the DeKalb County School System.

In its report to the Superior Court of DeKalb County the grand jury wrote that it had concerns over the delay in replacing former Superintendent Crawford Lewis, currently under indictment for racketeering, theft by a government employee and bribery.

They had concerns about the influence of School Board members over hiring of family and friends and about media leaks that caused Lillie Cox to withdraw her application to fill the vacant superintendent position. Concerns over the recent controversy involving school band members and allegations of hazing that led to the suspension of band activities was another issue.

The referendum for the special sales tax levy for education was also raised. The grand jury questioned whether school funds were improperly used to support the measure.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James was present for some of the Grand Jury discussions and has now received the recommendation to convene a Special Grand Jury to investigate further.

He declined to be interviewed but sent us the following statement:

"On Thursday, December 29, I received the official DeKalb County Grand Jury presentment. We take the recommendations of the Grand Jury very seriously and will review the information pertaining to the concerns regarding the DeKalb County School System and determine a proper course of action." - DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James

We contacted the current superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and all board members for a comment on this story but got none. Even the communications person never responded to our calls.

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