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Bibb school chief and his miracle plan under fire

Ohanian Comment: Doesn't this sound like an Onion story: First step in a Georgia reform plan: Teach Chinese to preK students. According to Wikipedia, the demographics of Bibb County are: 50.13% White, 47.32% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.08% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 0.81% from two or more races. I am all for everybody learning a foreign language, but nonetheless, this plan strikes me as odd.

And the rest of his reform includes closing schools and putting the ones left on a year-round schedule, and so on. Controversy surrounded Dallemand when he was chief school officer in Rochester, Minnesota from September 2007 until February 2011.

In April 2012, The Telegraph reported on the "microcosm of community divisiveness" regarding Superntendent Dallemand's trip to Belgium, along with the deputy superintendent and the professional learning director. They were scheduled to attend the 2012 World Appreciative Inquiry Conference in Ghent, Belgium. Here are the keynote speakers.

by Maureen Downey

Some folks in Macon have launched a petition calling for an investigation of Bibb County superintendent Romain Dallemand, whose short tenure has been rocky.

Hired 19 months ago to lead the under performing system, Dallemand rolled out an ambitious reform plan earlier this year for the schools, a plan dubbed the Macon Miracle.

Among its 100 action points: A dramatic restructuring of grade configurations, year-around calendars, Chinese classes for all students from pre-k to grade 12 (they would be phased in with teachers hired from China, a sore point with American teachers being laid off), schools of choice that students could pick based on their interests and dorms that would house students in need.

Here is the explanation on Change.org, for the new petition, which had 425 signature this morning:

Whether you live in Macon, Atlanta, New York, London or Tokyo, we need your help. We are trying to save our school system, so please take a moment and sign this petition. Help a community fight back for sanity and accountability in our schools and board of education. Only with enough signatures and attention will we have the leverage to force the board to call for an outside investigation. We want transparency and accountability. Help us save our schools!

If you are wondering why you should sign this petition, click the links below. This is the superintendent we are dealing with as well as a rubber stamping board of education that work for him instead of the citizens as it should be. Our superintendent has spent nearly as much time traveling all over the country and even the world dining on gourmet meals, staying at luxury hotels, while our students lack basic needs like toilet paper or books. He claims that no good ideas can come from Macon or even the state of Georgia and this is why he travels. Wasn't he supposed to come into his new job two years ago with outside ideas from day one? He left his job and the people of Rochester, MN., in a mess and now he is trying to do the same here in Georgia. Good teachers are leaving in droves, morale is down, discipline is non-existent, and people are afraid to speak out. The citizens of this community have had enough. No more!

The Macon Telegraph has reported that Dallemand has been traveling a great deal, although the school chief defends the trips as part of his mission to find and bring fresh ideas to the county.

He told the newspaper: "The ideas will not come from inside Macon. The ideas need to come from outside Macon, outside the state, outside of the country."

According to the Telegraph story:

Expense reports, credit card statements, and hotel and flight bills obtained by The Telegraph -- more than 1,000 pages -- show a pattern of frequent travel since Dallemand became superintendent of the Bibb County school system in February 2011.

Records show that the spending limit on two credit cards used for staff travel has been increased, and the spending limit on one of the cards has more than doubled in the course of a year. More than once during the year, bills for those cards came in higher than the spending limits, and other documents indicate that the system̢۪s chief financial officer would not sign off on some of the spending.

Two weeks ago, the Telegraph reported that the state Professional Standards Commission "recommended a county-level investigation into public complaints about resume credentials supplied by Bibb County school Superintendent Romain Dallemand. The group also confirmed that it has already recommended the board investigate Dallemand's official spending."

According to the Telegraph:

"The ball is in their court now," said Paul Shaw, the director of educator ethics for the state Professional Standards Commission.

The PSC voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the Bibb County Board of Education investigate an allegation that Dallemand provided an incorrect title on his resume. But they threw out a repeat complaint about Dallemand's travel spending, simply because it was a close duplicate of one that they had already forwarded to the Bibb BOE about two months ago.

As Shaw put it, "We've already said to the (Bibb school) board: 'Here are some allegations about inappropriate spending and travel, and so you need to review your records and determine if there̢۪s a violation of contracts.'"

The Bibb school board is not required to investigate either case or report back to the PSC. There̢۪s no PSC deadline for any investigation.

The complaints were mostly about travel spending, Shaw said. Dallemand, and occasionally top deputies, took at least 18 overnight trips in the year beginning in February 2011, according to a Telegraph count. And the spending limit on one official credit card doubled during the same period.

Two outspoken Dallemand critics, Darren Latch and Bill Knowles, filed the résumé complaint with the state. They’re questioning the superintendent’s claimed four years as a "mental health therapist" in Florida. Dallemand, in a letter to the school board Wednesday, said he has since asked Florida about his title and been told that he should call himself a "therapist," not a "mental health therapist."

Officials in Florida said Thursday that based upon the current law, Dallemand couldn't call himself a mental health therapist without a license, which he was never issued. However, they noted that some changes in the statute took place since 1994 to 1998, the period in question, and there are some exemptions in place where a therapist wouldn̢۪t necessarily need a license.

— Maureen Downey
Atlantic Journal-Constitution Get Schooled Blog





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