Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dr. Kevin Harris takes action to improve Dunwoody High School conditions.

Dr. Kevin Harris, Principal Dunwoody H.S.

Last week I received a copy of an e-mail that was sent to Crawford Lewis from a Dunwoody High School Parent and I posted it to my site in order to bring the Dunwoody overcrowding situation to a larger audience. Within hours the letter from my site was copied onto a GoDeKalb.com article which was published the same day by Cathy Cobbs of the Dunwoody Crier. The impassioned e-mail sparked an educated discussion, along with research on the topic of the Federal No Child Left Behind Law and DeKalb's implementation of it.

If you are not aware of GoDeKalb.com, I highly recommend checking in on the site and I am particularly impressed with the commenters who do are very knowledgeable on the subject of the DeKalb County School System.

Today I am happy to bring you a letter from Dunwoody's new Principal, Dr. Kevin Harris showing some positive changes at Dunwoody High School
.

Dear Parents, Guardians, and Dunwoody HS Stakeholders,

THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT DURING THESE LAST TWO WEEKS!!!!

Words cannot convey the appreciation and gratitude that I have for my staff who supported me throughout the storm. We did our best work to address the obvious issues and challenges at DHS. I want to send a strong message to the DHS Educational Community that I am leading the charge with student excellence as my premise. I want to assure you that we finalized the scheduling issues and we will only tweak schedules that have serious implications toward academic success. I ask that I am afforded the opportunity to lead my faculty and staff down the road less traveled. Scheduling is an essential part of any student's educational career. However, we built the Master Schedule based on student/parent selection of classes and NOT teachers. I believe in doing my job and that is to supervise and evaluate my staff at DHS. Being new to DHS, I am coming with an achievement paradigm shift in mind: ALL students will achieve! I will protect my staff as long as they are in compliance with the scope, sequence and delivery of instruction. The staff members at DHS are clear about my instructional expectations – that teaching and learning are non-negotiable. I will not accept mediocrity from any staff member and I will not accept mediocrity from any of the 1611 students at DHS. I will only change schedules on a case by case analysis.

Progress! Progress! Progress... I am glad to inform everyone that we received 6 additional teachers this week, 1 PE teacher and 1 Para will arrive on Monday, August 25, 2008, and I received clearance to post and interview for two Math Teachers. We are currently interviewing for two Para positions in which we anticipate making recommendations for hire by COB on Friday, August 22, 2008. I am still pushing for an additional Assistant Principal, Counselor, Cafeteria Worker, Custodial Worker, SRO and a Campus Security Officer. Furthermore, two additional trailers will arrive on campus on Friday, August 22, 2008.

We are no longer receiving school choice students. To dispel any rumors about DHS and our enrollment, we are only accepting/enrolling students who reside in the DHS attendance zone.

Earlier this week, I had a situation where we had a breach with information sharing. All stakeholders who are involved understand that I do NOT and will NOT hide any truths about DHS. However, I do expect that if you want information about what is happening at the school, just send me an email or come by the school. If I am available, I will spend time with you. If you need an appointment, call Ms. Tanya Cooper@ 678.874.8502. Please do not ask any of the DHS staff members about information regarding the school and use it as information sharing. (AYP) Ask Your Principal!

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of meeting the Fire Marshall! The Fire Marshall walked into DHS with a citation in hand and asked for my signature. I politely expressed to the Fire Marshall that, "I am a true believer in holding myself accountable and always to be in compliance, but can you tell me why I am being served a citation and we have not walked the building." The Fire Marshall responded, "I received information from some parents stating that last year there were only 1100 students at DHS and this year there are more than 1600 students at DHS so I have to issue a citation at this time." My response, again Sir, I will gladly sign off on this citation, but if I can ask a question, what does the certificate of occupancy state with respect to the total number of students allowed for enrollment? The Fire Marshall stated that he did not know that number nor did he have access to that information at that time. As a result, the citation was rescinded. The Fire Marshall walked the building and made minimal recommendations to safety concerns. It is documented that DHS had close to1400 students enrolled last year

Ironically, on that very same day, unannounced to me, the Media arrived on the DHS campus. I was made aware of the fact that a reporter from Channel 2 NEWS was en route to campus to do a story on DHS--over-crowded issues and fire & safety issues. I re-routed the reporter to the Superintendent’s office since proper protocol was not followed to conduct interviews at DHS.

I am pleased to inform you that ALL textbooks with the exception of 20 AP Psychology books were assigned and issued to the students today. I want to ensure you that I will complete a textbook inventory on Friday, August 22, 2008 to make certain that ALL STUDENTS receive their textbook. Additionally, all locker assignments have been issued to students at DHS. We currently have approximately 50 lockers available to assign if needed.

Parents, I want you to know that I will respond to your emails. Please understand that many of your questions about schedule changes have been addressed in this email. I will call/email you back soon. However, if you need to contact me, please contact Ms. Cooper and schedule an appointment...

PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE CALLED A MEETING WITH THE SCHOOL COUNCIL (Tuesday, August 26, 2008 @ 4:00PM). This meeting will be the first of many as I plan to discuss/present preliminary findings based upon needs and the future of DHS.

PS Thank you Dr. Briggs for your trusted and valued services to the Dunwoody Community!

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin Harris, Ed. D.
Principal

4 comments:

Rick said...

According to the school system the design capacity is 1496 students. see here: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/PDFs/inventory.pdf

I know design capacity may not be the figure the fire marshal goes by, but it is the number parents are concerned with.

Also, a question for Dr. Harris; what date did you stop receiving transfers? If you accpeted transfers past the established deadline, why?

John Heneghan said...

I am posting this comment at the request of a DHS Parent.

It really isn't over. On the surface, the letter from Dr. Harris looks vaguely celebratory. Yet nothing in his letter addresses overcrowding in common areas such as the cafeteria, halls, and gym. We can add trailers as long as there's open space on the campus and that seems to placate the administrators. Plus, we're still short-staffed, as he admitted in the letter.

It is premature to tell if he and the country really are getting a handle on the situation. We really must keep up the pressure because the school system is still putting a temporary bandage on a profoundly problematic, long term problem. My concern is that it'll be "business as usual." The County's abysmally poor management as well as chronic and endemic failures in multiple high schools are worsening with each passing year. DHS is simply the latest - and most personal - casualty.

Dave said...

Maybe we need a new Principal. Harris strikes me as a person with ego & control issues.

Dave said...

He's gone!!!