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Dunwoody residents and leaders meet about schools

7:55 AM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
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DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Parents, city leaders and members of the business community met Sunday afternoon to discuss the future of their schools.

Less than five years after becoming a city, some want to know why they can't create an independent school district for Dunwoody.

Stacey Harris is the President of the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association and said many in the city are worried about the ongoing problems with the DeKalb County School District.

"One reason Dunwoody pursued cityhood was because we were dissatisfied with the services we were receiving from the county.  The same thing applies to our school system," Harris said.

Harris and others have formed the Dunwoody Parents Concerned About Quality Education.

At 4 p.m., around 300 people packed the Kingswood United Methodist Church to hear about some options being considered. 

Both the city council and the Dunwoody Homeowners' Association have publicly backed House Resolution 486 introduced by Rep. Tom Taylor.  If passed, it would allow municipalities formed after 2005 create their own independent school districts. However, that would require amending the state constitution.  Taylor himself told the crowd it would be a long term solution and likely wouldn't get on the ballot until November 2014.

After watching the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the DeKalb County school system on probation and six ousted board members sue to keep their jobs, they worry about the future of their children's education.

Parent Allegra Johnson said she was frustrated well before a scathing SACS report was released last December.

"For years, money that was supposed to be going to benefit our teachers to help them teach our kids has been spent on things, like lawsuits, that have nothing to do with our kids," Johnson said.

As for other options, the newly formed group is looking at another agency that could accredit schools and whether to revisit the idea of charter schools of school clusters.

As for changing the constitution to allow smaller school districts, residents said they are optimistic but also realistic.

"We know it will be an uphill battle. It could take years, but as more people are opting for smaller, locally run cities why shouldn't their school districts be run the same way," Harris said.

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