You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

DeKalb Schools paid search firm $140,000 in 2016, but few records explain why


The high-dollar search firm the DeKalb County School District paid to find eight top administrators during the 2015-2016 school year produced no report on its work for school district officials.

On its website, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates takes credit for placing two DeKalb school administrators, though it charged the district more than $140,000. Three of the eight open positions went to former colleagues of Superintendent Steve Green.

Whether it was an effective use of money depends on who’s asked.

Green has said while the firm — an arm of suburban Chicago educational consultant ECRA Group Inc. — didn’t find all the selected candidates for the positions it was charged with helping fill, it would have a hand in vetting all candidates, including those he recommended.

And one school district official says he understands a lack of written reports go to confidentiality concerns — helping to protect applicants’ privacy — which is key to search processes.

“It would be detrimental to the ones that didn’t get hired if certain information was available,” DeKalb County Board of Education Chairman Melvin Johnson said. “That’s why our confidence level in the firm (has to be) so high.”

School board member Joyce Morley disagreed with hiring the firm in the first place, calling it unnecessary due diligence and wasted money, as the people who would fill many of the positions had been decided already.

“Most of the stuff we’re actually authorizing, there’s no follow-up or anything to the board,” Morley said.

HYA produced a general report of services it performed only after an inquiry from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A summary said the firm received information from 299 people interested in the positions. The firm’s statement said it typically recruits, screens, interviews and proposes candidates.

The district had initially contracted with HYA in September 2015 to find candidates for the director of special education, chief legal officer and chief academic and accountability officer positions.

HYA’s contract was amended to include searches for a director of charter schools, school governance and flexibility, an executive director for facilities and operations, chief communications and community relations officer, chief human capital management officer and executive director for student achievement.

On its website, the group takes credit for placing Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Hackemeyer and Laura Stowell, the director of charters, school governance and flexibility. It also helped fill a principal’s position, which it originally was not contracted to do.

According to the agreement, HYA was guaranteed $122,500 for fees related to eight job searches, even if the district decided not to go through with the search process.

Johnson said the decisions on who gets hired are up to the superintendent, because the board has faith in his decision-making.

“We lost our accreditation because we got into the micromanaging in the hiring,” he said of district issues from several years ago. “That was part of it. They hired their cousins instead of a selected process.”

Green made the final selections, with board approval, including three from his previous school district.

Green introduced Leo Brown, Manomay Malathip and Eileen Houston-Stewart at the January 2016 Board of Education meeting. Brown had been Green’s human capital management officer at Kansas City Public Schools before moving to Atlanta to work for Emory Healthcare. The school system hired him as interim human capital management officer. Malathip and Houston-Stewart, who were still working for Kansas City Public Schools before they came to Atlanta, arrived as the interim executive director for student advancement and interim chief communications and community relations officer, respectively.

Brown missed work for more than two months between December and March because of personal issues before district officials announced he would be reassigned to a position in the district’s operations division after facing “health challenges.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy rolls out red carpet for incoming 5th graders
Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy rolls out red carpet for incoming 5th graders

A video showing incoming 5th graders at Atlanta’s Ron Clark Academy doing the Milly Rock down a red carpet has set social media on fire. About 300,000 people have seen the 45-second video on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Founder Ron Clark said the red carpet welcome has been a fixture at the school for nearly a decade. &ldquo...
Olens discusses goals to raise money for Kennesaw State research and projects
Olens discusses goals to raise money for Kennesaw State research and projects

Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens, in his first state of the university address Monday, asked faculty and staff for their help as he attempts to raise more money for various renovation projects and additional student housing on both campuses. “There’s a lot to do and so much that I want to accomplish,” Olens said during...
Seventy-five Gwinnett County students opt out of Georgia Milestones
Seventy-five Gwinnett County students opt out of Georgia Milestones

Seventy-five Gwinnett County students have opted out of taking the Georgia Milestones exams, school district officials said Thursday. The number is low in comparison to the 76,000 students taking the exams, but it shows the resistance some parents have of what they say is too much testing by schools and not enough focus on learning. The Georgia Milestones...
Which Atlanta school is pushing early college completion to tackle student debt?
Which Atlanta school is pushing early college completion to tackle student debt?

Clark Atlanta University officials saw a problem. Many students were graduating with mountains of student debt. One group of researchers last year estimated the average amount of debt for Clark Atlanta students at nearly $41,000, the highest of any school they surveyed in Georgia. The private university, near downtown Atlanta, last year became...
Many Georgia students feel overburdened by rising college costs
Many Georgia students feel overburdened by rising college costs

Athens resident Jessica Hembree, who wants to become a doctor, began her college career last year but she took this semester off. Why? She wanted, needed, to save money to pay the additional thousands of dollars it will cost her to attend the University of Georgia this fall. Hembree, 19, is working three part-time jobs, putting in about 40 hours a...
More Stories