Living Legend Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian among speakers at Parks College and Career Day

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Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian with Parks Middle Scholars.
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Special Education Lead Teacher Kamau Mason, student Kevin Griffin, Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian and Media Specialist Yashica Green.

February 1st marked the first day of Black History Month.  A bit of history also occurred at College and Career Day at W. L. Parks Middle School.  The College and Career Day focused on exposing students to the many post-secondary opportunities available to them and how critical it is to prepare for these opportunities now.  Over 30 College and Career Day participants shared their enthusiasm, dedication and expertise from their trade school, alma mater or career.  This year, we were privileged to have individuals representing various colleges and technical schools, as well as a living legend in the person of Rev. Dr. C. T. Vivian. Dr. Vivian is known as one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s closest friends and faithful lieutenants during the Civil Rights Movement.  He shared his stories of discrimination, racism as well as stories of determination and triumph. His soft voice but strong spirit engaged our students from beginning to end. It was indeed a joy to have Dr. Vivian grace us with his presence.

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Mr. Charles King, IT Consultant, Florida A & M Alumnus and President of the Atlanta Alumni Chapter for FAMU.
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Mechelle Matthews with the Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers, Atlanta.

Students also had the opportunity to meet Mr. Wilkerson from The Georgia Driving Academy.  As a senior instructor for the GDA, Mr. Wilkerson brought an actual truck cab to Parks which hitches to 18 wheeler trucks. Students were able to make real world connections while he demonstrated what he discussed.

Mr. Charles King, an IT Consultant and businessman, was another dynamic presenter who spoke with passion and excitement about his profession and alma mater, Florida A & M University. Mr. King was able to capture our students by expressing the critical need for innovative and out of the box thinkers who also meet minimum requirements and training to be tomorrow’s trendsetters. His passion was evident and contagious.

Parks MS had a dynamic and informative College and Career Day that truly was an eye-opening and impressionable experience for our students. We are grateful for all our participants and know that their presentations have sparked our students towards greatness and success.

written by Latarsha Mills-McKie Ed.S Guidance Counselor, Parks Middle School  

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Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian imparts life lessons and wisdom to Parks Scholars.
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Mr. Vann Wilkerson from the Georgia Driving Academy.
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Mr. Jackie Miller, Southwest Representative for Milo’s Sweet Tea.

Pennies for Patients!

LLSPennies_CR2During the month of January, Fickett Elementary participated in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients Drive. Over a three week period students were asked to collect coins and put them in a classroom collection box.

Since 1994, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and other spare change by more than 10 million elementary, middle and high school students throughout the country. The funds benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. Students across the country collected pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters during the Pennies for Patients campaigns benefiting the Society.

“We are teaching our children to become change agent citizens, and I feel that this program will give students an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others,” said Mary L. King, the school counselor at Fickett.Pennies for patients 010

This was the school’s 3rd year particpating in the service project, and this year Fickett joined 27,000 schools nationwide in the Pennies for Patients program.  The school’s goal was to raise $2,000. In the Pennies for Patients campaign, the class collecting the most change in each school receives a pizza party. Prizes such as computers, electronics and sports equipment are presented to the top schools in each area. Once the donations are counted, the top class at Fickett will also receive tickets to the UniverSoul Circus.

WWE Stars Promote Anti-Bullying at Hope-Hill

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WWE celebrities visited Hope-Hill Elementary on February 4th, 2013, for Be a STAR rally against bullying. The Anti-Defamation League, which operates No Place for Hate, connected Be a STAR with Hope-Hill and co-sponsored this event.  The students were ecstatic to meet the special guests and enlightened by their presentations regarding cyber-bullying, disrespecting others, name-calling, and more.

Be a STAR Rally participants included:

  • Stephanie McMahon, Executive Vice President of Creative
  • Diva Layla, WWE Professional Wrestler
  • Kofi Kingston, WWE Professional Wrestler
  • Hornswoggle, WWE Professional Wrestler
  • Josh Mathews, WWE Announcer and Be a STAR Host
  • Ben Cohen, Founder of The Ben Cohen Stand Up Foundation

“Being different is being great,” said Kofi Kingston, as he shared his experience of being bullied in his childhood.  He told the students that people used to tease him by calling him Coffee rather than Kofi, and Hope-Hill students reacted by chanting Kofi Kingston’s name. Diva Layla discussed the difference between entertainment and reality by sharing her personal experience.  Hornswoggle inspired the students by never letting his size hold him back from reaching his dream as a WWE professional wrestler.

“Hope-Hill has zero tolerance for bullying, and our goal is for Hope-Hill to be designated as a No Place for Hate school. We will achieve this by continually implementing programs such as the one today to highlight the need for anti-bullying, not only at our school, but for schools across the nation,” says Angela Fortson, Counselor at Hope-Hill. “The students are thrilled to meet all of the stars who visited Hope-Hill today, and we appreciate and applause their support for anti-bullying.”

100 tickets were given away to Hope-Hill students to attend the RAW Event at Phillips Arena.

Week Four Legislative Report – February 8, 2013

Week Four Legislative Report

February 8, 2013

Local Legislation

The redistricting map for the Atlanta Board of Education has been officially filed with the House Clerk’s office.  House Bill 241 now goes to the full House for consideration.  Because this is local legislation, it will likely be presented as consent local legislation, which means it will be considered as grouped legislation with other local bills.  Only contested local bills are voted on separately. 

(link to HB 241:


The amended fiscal year 2013 budget passed the House.  The budget restored funds to programs that the Governor recommended be cut.  These programs include local five mill share, residential treatment centers, the Governor’s honors program and RESAs.

Highlighted Bills

House Bill 115 (Rep. Dickerson) 

The House Education committee gave a DO PASS to revised version of the bill.

Revises provisions of the law related to the suspension and removal of school board members in cases where the system is placed on probation by an accrediting agency.  The proposed changes include:

  • §  A requirement that notices of the system being placed on probation must be submitted to the state board in writing.
  • §  The state board must hold hearings on charges between 10 and 90 days after being received.
  • §  The bill also authorizes the state board to continue a hearing and hold it in executive session.
  • §  The bill specifically states that suspension or removal shall not apply to board members who were not serving on the board at the time the accrediting agency placed the system or school on probation.

House Bill 116 (Rep. Dickson)

The House Education committee gave a DO PASS.

The bill allows the State Board of Education to transfer donations, gifts, and other property held in trust to the Georgia Foundation for Public Education for management and administration. 

House Bill 123 (Rep Lindsey)   

“Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act” (also known as the Parent Trigger Act)

Academic Innovation Subcommittee gave a DO PASS to revised version of the bill.

The bill allows a petitioning group (i.e.: either a group of parents or faculty/instructional staff at a public school or high school cluster) to submit a petition to the local school board to convert any local school into a charter school.  The group must have a majority (more than 50%) of parents consenting via signatures.  One vote per household is counted.  Faculty must also have a majority in favor of the conversion and are permitted to take their vote by secret ballot with at least two weeks notice of the vote being offered.  Official forms developed by the Department of Education must be used.  The language of the bill was revised to provide that parents can only make one vote per household/child.  Therefore, in the case of split custody, only one parent could vote.

Newly Introduced Legislation


House Bills

HB 131 (Rep. Clark)

The bill allows credits for Advanced Placement courses and International Baccalaureate courses to be treated the same as dual enrollment courses for the purpose of determining HOPE eligibility.


House Bill 211 (Rep. Benton)

The bill would exempt school systems from motor fuel taxes for school buses.

House Bill 217 (Rep. Jones)

The bill would require the instruction of CPR for students in high school before graduation.

House Bill 228 (Rep. Hamilton)

The bill prohibits public employees from using government owned computers or other telecommunications devise to promote or oppose the passage of any legislation.  The bill also prohibits school systems from using the email addresses of parents for any other purpose than for school related functions (i.e.: political purposes).


House Bill 231 (Rep. Neal)

The bill caps the qualified education tax credits to pubic schools at $50 million with permissible adjustments for inflation until January 1, 2018.

HB 238 (Rep. Maxwell)

The bill increases the maximum retirement benefits per year for retirement for the Public School Employees Retirement System from $15 to $16 per year.  This retirement system is for cafeteria workers and school bus drivers.

HB 244 (Rep. Nix)

The bill establishes the state developed annual performance evaluation process for educators, which much prioritize student achievement growth as a measurement tool.  Student growth is required to count for 50% of the total evaluation of the educator.  Educators will be measured on a four-tier scale, with unsatisfactory as the lowest evaluation outcome.  It requires school systems to report more than two unsatisfactory performance evaluations for an educator to the Professional Standards Commission (PSC).  The requirement for professional development plans for deficient educators is eliminated.  The bill also mandates that school systems conduct any promotions, dismissals, compensation or reductions in force based on the evaluation system described.  Teacher contract deadlines are permanently extended to May 15th rather than April 15thTeacher acceptance of such contracts is also extended from May 1st to June 1st.

HB 245 (Rep. Benton)

The bill explicitly states that an educator cannot be prohibited from enrolling in a leadership preparation program regardless of their current position within the school system.


HB 249 (Rep. Neal)

The bill prohibits public high schools from participating in an athletic association unless the athletic association multiplies the population of the participation of the private schools by 1.5 when qualifying such schools for competitions.

HB 263 (Rep. Martin)

The bill prohibits local school boards from subsidizing the health benefit costs of any non-current employee.

HR 160 (Rep. Casas)

This Constitutional amendment would allow up to 75 percent of sales taxes for educational purposes to be used for maintenance and operation expenses of a school system.

HR 218 (Rep. Sims)

A resolution requesting that all local school superintendents recognize that learning the United States Constitution is a vital facet of primary education; and for other purposes.


Senate Bills

Senate Bill 89 (Sen. Fort)

This Senate bill mirrors the bill introduced in the House, requiring all schools to have carbon monoxide detectors.

SB 114 (Sen. Jones)

The bill would require a one-year residency requirement to run for the school board. Further, any citizen that has had a felony or misdemeanor conviction within the last 10 years would be ineligible to run for office.  The bill also describes in detail certain codes of ethics for local school board members and superintendents.

SB 115 (Sen. Tippins)

The bill specifies that the resident school system is responsible for housing the academic records for students.  This relates to students in the juvenile justice system and those in residential placement facilities.

SR 184 (Sen. Thompson)

This proposed Constitutional amendment would provide limitations by general law on the amount of tuition that may be charged to students receiving lottery funded scholarships and grants and attending colleges and universities operated by the board of regents or institutions operated by the Technical College System of Georgia.

SR 185 (Sen. Jackson)

This resolution urges the Georgia Student Finance Commission to provide the General Assembly with the necessary data and information to assess whether the HOPE scholarship program is meeting its desired results.