DeKalb County superintendent meets with Druid Hills Charter Cluster members
This story has been updated.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond may be having second thoughts about the idea of creating a Druid Hills Charter Cluster.
School system spokesperson Quinn Hudson informed Decaturish on Friday that Thurmond recently met with representatives from the charter cluster group at Thurmond’s request.
Hudson said the meeting lasted about two hours and described it as “respectful.” Hudson said he did not attend the meeting but said Fred Daniels, a member of the charter cluster group, attended.
Daniels declined to comment.
“Thank you for your inquiry, but I do not have a comment at this time,” Daniels said via email. “Matt Lewis is the leader of the DHCC and speaks for the body.”
Lewis has not returned emails seeking comment. If DeKalb is reconsidering its opposition to the charter cluster idea, it could change the debate about a plan to annex the Druid Hills community into the city of Atlanta.
Together in Atlanta gained momentum parents failed in their attempts create a Druid Hills Charter Cluster. If it had been successful, the charter cluster would’ve encompassed seven schools – Avondale Elementary, Briar Vista Elementary, Fernbank Elementary, Laurel Ridge Elementary, McLendon Elementary, Druid Hills Middle School and Druid Hills High School.
In October, the charter cluster group pulled its petition and blasted Thurmond for his opposition to the idea. Weeks later, Together in Atlanta – which includes supporters of the charter cluster idea – began advancing a proposal to annex Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools, as well as Druid Hills High, into the city of Atlanta. It would also include Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Atlanta’s Mayor supports the TIA proposal, but it hasn’t been popular among parents of schools that feed into Druid Hills High. There’s no clear answer on where those students would go if Druid Hills High becomes part of Atlanta Public Schools.
It’s also causing Atlanta Public Schools to reassess its plans to expand Inman Middle School.
Thurmond had signaled that he would fight the Druid Hills annexation in court, and proposed allocating millions to cover the costs of the litigation. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, sharply criticized Thurmond for that suggestion.
“I’m really confused about why somebody is already choosing to litigate something that hasn’t happened instead of sitting down in a fair-minded way,” Oliver said during a December meeting about the annexation proposal.
Decaturish had learned through a reliable source that an independent mediator had attempted to rekindle talks between Thurmond and the charter cluster parents. The source told us that previous attempts had been unsuccessful.
Hudson’s confirmation of the meeting is the first official acknowledgement of these discussions.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about when the Together In Atlanta group formed. This story has been updated with the correct information. The initial story also said the meeting occurred on Tuesday, which was relayed by the DeKalb Schools spokesperson. Documents we obtained indicate that the meeting occurred on Wednesday, Feb. 4. We are attempting to confirm the exact date this meeting took place.