TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME! A crying Shame – Dr. Cheryl Atkinson

February 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm 22 comments

I have been involved with truths somewhat this week- my own struggle with “truth” 😦 more on that later)— the truths of the inadequacy of the “system” that is Lorain Property Maintenance Code ( the ‘orrible truth”) —–

and will we ever know the truth???
DR. Cheryl Atkinson came to Lorain (2007) – she was touted by one and all as the saviour of Lorain City School system. Her accolades rang from the lips of members of the educational community- the Lorain Board of Education- ( the fact is at one time -then President of the BOE Tony Dimacchia gave her a glowing recommendation- albeit to go elsewhere and then was shocked 😉 )

-the ethnic community rallied around as did support from so many organizations and people of this community , the City of Lorain- the administration and her council people , even to the editor of the local newspaper ( Tom Skoch, Morning Journal). Dr. Atkinson had a plethora of resources upon which to draw. This community desperately looking for the way forward and offering her the help she needed. Lorain and her schools wanted Dr. Atkinson to succeed – her success meant our success!

In fact, in hindsight, we were so desperate for someone to lead us “quickly and efficiently” out of the quagmire that had become Lorain City Schools, to bring in a fresh perspective, to be able to do the “tough love” as she presumably had no “relationships or agendas” ( but hopefully the one ) which should’ve been “the health of a failing school system”, we did not see the tree for the forest of hope in this woman’s ability.

The story that started well with co-operation and hope soon became a community in conflict with itself- derision on the Lorain Board of Education- armed guard ( Lorain Police) protecting the superintendent from the public at School Board meetings escorting her to and from those meetings . Questions as to favouritism, spending that seemed superfluous to education. It was precisely that concern that led me to a public records request

This above post and request led to a meeting with a meeting with Cheryl Atkinson and I must say a “staff of people” .

I remember well that day I was shown into a conference room – I must admit I was a little flummoxed at the amount of staff required for a relatively simple Q and A meeting with Dr. Atkinson,

Superintendent Atkinson, Mr. Stewart, Mr. De Nicola, Mr. Woods, Ms Sanchez, Ms Tansy on December 6th, 2010

I looked at the amount of yearly compensation paid to them for their expertise as we gathered around that table and smiled inwardly – all for the benefit of answering my fairly simple and straight forward questions from me?? a blogger?? I was flattered. 😉

NOTE: You can find the answers to those and links to the previous posts on the subject here

But one question answered itself for me at that meeting – and Cheryl Atkinson answered without saying a word. On three occasions as I asked questions, that weren’t particularly “hard” but needed a clarification, Cheryl left the room those three times in tears in response to those questions – One question asked was about the relationship of Lorain City Schools and Compassion Baptist Church expenditure-

4. Compassion Project. Compassion Baptist Church

PO#303647 – $10,000.00

The accounts(s) from which the PO was paid. Please give an itemized breakdown of this PO exactly what this money was used for from what funding source or granting authority was used to pay this PO what are the parameters of the funding or granting authority and can the funding source be used for other services. I further request a copy of the service contract for services provided in the 2010-11 school year under said project.

this had a red flag to me because HUD was requesting records of their expenditures
HUD seeks more Lorain records on Compassion Baptist Church

Another question I had was about the expenditures for mentoring which included her husband and then money going to religious organizations for events – what was the criteria for these events to be subsidized by the Lorain City School system. Simple questions and only needed a straight- forward answer – one would have thought

I was not attacking – I didn’t raise my voice- I was not abusive and quite frankly any CEO or head of any organization would have dealt with me and my questions as nothing but a minor irritation.

In my opinion, Cheryl Atkinson was not a CEO, not a leader with strength of conviction and certainly knew how, with tears and emotion shaking in her voice, to ” derail” any further questions”

Her staff looked on with concern for their boss, showing the discomfort they felt for her with long looks as she left the room, yet again excusing herself time and time again, with a catch in her throat – apologizing for her emotions.

Mr. Ron Stewart a consultant to LCS – shook his head sympathetically offered her a tissue as she left the room- He looked at me his eyes almost “brimming”

“Oh she has a great heart, she puts this system first in all she does , she will call me late into the night at my home with her concerns”.

I looked at this man, for whom my taxpayers money was paying a nice sum, and thought- excuse me but why is a CEO calling you at home late at night- surely this is business and should be conducted as such- I wondered whether we were paying extra for late night reassurances on his bill? ) but I kept my thoughts to myself – it was not the time or the place to get into personalities.

However, with those “tear breaks” Cheryl managed to stop the momentum of the questions – smiles all around as I left – I never did get a satisfactory answer to those questions 😉

Were the tear breaks a manipulation by a woman who knew the result of such behaviour to have on the meeting or was she truly such a “weak and weedy ” individual worth the quarter of a million and more we paid for her expertise. ( In hindsight a crying shame!)

Either way, I left that meeting knowing Lorain City Schools, no matter what the answers to the questions, they were in big trouble with such a person at the helm- a fact of which I made mention to more than one BOE member and supporter of Lorain City Schools – and that is the truth!

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson left Lorain for Dekalb School System where it seems history repeats itself……..

for more money and greater exploits although some would argue “exploitation”….

“At times, she seemed more interested in her county-issued car, her personal security and her text messages (requiring the services of yet another taxpayer-paid attorney, Mike Bowers, former Georgia Attorney General!) than any kind of real work focused on educating children. We believe it is these ‘missing’ text messages that caused her to vacate her post. She exited quickly and quietly, slipping away to tend to her ailing father, and the details of his reported January 23, 2013 death, but never returning, instead sending her (taxpayer funded) attorney – literally imposing a checkmate on the Board and leaving a school system of nearly 100,000 students without a leader. Nice lady!

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, city of lorain, education, notorious opponents of exactitude. Tags: , , , , , , , .

The Cowboys of Lorain- (PT. 6) thoughts from the corral – drive-by and fix The Birthdays- 94 to 1- Happy Birthday Mum!

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ladalang  |  February 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    My understanding is she was a sorority sister of none other than former school board member Jeanine Donaldson. If this is true she was well connected.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Yes I believe you are correct and in fact if memory serves it was the soriety sister connection that helped her or introduced her elsewhere….

  • 3. aka/mozart  |  February 9, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    However, with those“tear breaks” Cheryl managed to stop the momentum of the questions – smiles all around as I left – I never did get a satisfactory answer to those questions …..
    i presume she was coached well by her “buddy” on how not to answer questions…. if she opened her mouth…it would have been lies in my opinion.
    Jim Smith was the only one on to her…other board members in their clown cars…what are they saying now…hmmmmmm?

  • 4. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 9, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I don’t think she needed any coaching , she was already well versed in that behaviour IN MY OPINION before she came to Lorain- it like many other things was already part of her make- up – I have seen it before and we will see it again-

  • 5. momfromhe11  |  February 10, 2013 at 2:53 am

    A reader from DeKalb County, Ga here…

    There seems to be a relationship between the “tear breaks” and the departure for a family care/bereavement leave that lasted three+ weeks and from which she never returned – sent an attorney to negotiate her departure. Same technique. To my (very limited) knowledge, she never took the risk here of meeting with anyone who filed an open records request – just ignored ’em.

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    I am reposting this comment under this post as it pertains

    16.dekalbschoolwatch | February 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    We applaud your efforts. We tried very hard to demand information via Open Records from Atkinson after she came to DeKalb. She ignored about 95% of our requests. ESPECIALLY the ones requesting the contents of her text messages. These were requested by a local attorney for an employee lawsuit. Instead, Atkinson and our head of legal, Ron Ramsey, offered the plaintiff her job back – if she would drop the request for the text messages. She did and the riffed employee is back at work. Atkinson promptly quit. The rest of us are left wondering, “What on earth was IN those text messages?!!”

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 10, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I would say this being a smaller community and the fact that I am ” that woman” and am well known for being somewhat tenacious and a nag…… as well as the fact every member of the Board… the treasurer and the attorney got my request as well as it being publicized in this smaller community – and it was a perfectly reasonable request with PO numbers ( which threw her I believe) she was trying to track down the leak (s)….. I know the specifics of the requests caused a stir… but actually there weren’t any leaks ( people were intimidated not to speak …. at least that was my understanding – not allowed to talk unless through Cheryl…. .. just my regular research on getting those items…. .but to have over a million dollars of salaried personal sitting around a table to ” support” her and answer questions that she should have been able to handle in a heartbeat was incongruous with her position … if you ever find out what was in the message Lorain (e) would like to know too 🙂

  • 8. Brian  |  February 11, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Off the topic question. Does LCS allow other organizations to use the school gyms and facilities, like MOST OTHER SCHOOLS, for things like youth basketball?

  • 9. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    I know at one point LCS refinished the Southview High gym when it was closed for Paul Beibers basketball group/club I questioned why they were refinishing at the time ( as there werent’ plans at that time opening it back up) and I was told it was for his youth group………. soooooooooo at least in that instance yes 🙂

  • 10. Brian  |  February 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    In other cities, there is programming for the kids like basketball leagues in the school buildings. I was wondering if this was a matter of there being no organizations to run these programs or that the excuse of “liability” was used by the schools.

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Well Brian I know at one point they opened the gym during the late evening at Irving for awhile trouble was for this neighborhood the little darlins and they weren’t so l;ittle caused havoc in the neighborhood AFTER they left the building………. so we weren’t too happy with the program due the destruction, tagging and general mayhem caused……. so I was not a fan

  • 12. Lisa  |  February 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Brian (aka Changer Of All Subjects), call Divina at 233.2238 and talk to her about building rentals. LCS is more accommodating to the community than you want to think or give them credit for. Boys & Girls Club leases the former Lowell Elementary School for their evening and weekend programs. Every time I go by there, they are busy. Like all nonprofit groups, they can only afford to do so much. If you’ve got the money and proof of insurance, I’m sure LCS would do their best to work with you and your after school program.

  • 13. Lisa  |  February 16, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Correction – Divina’s number is 233.2236.

  • 14. Lisa  |  February 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Since I know how you are and you won’t follow up, Brian, I bothered Divina at home today to get these answers for you:

    Proof of insurance = a certificate of liability in the amount of one million dollars

    The person who applies for the building rental must be a Lorain citizen and affiliated with a Lorain group or organization.

    There are rental fees involved and for that information, you would need to talk to Divina.

  • 15. Brian  |  February 17, 2013 at 2:27 am

    You know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about how I am. The reason why I asked is because every weekend I have been going to watch kids basketball games at various schools. The folks that put on the basketball programs that I have been attending do not rent the facilities nor provide a million dollar insurance policy.

    So Lisa, why don’t you call Divina and ask her why Lorain doesn’t have half the things that other school districts have for after school programming?

    And Lisa, I do follow up, just that it is done on my schedule, not yours. I have several things going on and I have been extremely busy.

  • 16. Brian  |  February 17, 2013 at 2:40 am

    Oh, Sorry Lisa. I don’t have an after school program that I want to run. All my children are grown, in fact my daughter arrived in Florida yesterday where she will be working in the Tampa area. My youngest son attends Kent State University, and one of my twins was recently stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

    My other twin bought a home, just not in Lorain and I have two grand daughters who will never attend Lorain City Schools.

    You see. Loraine mentioned that previous after school programming was not that pleasant for her. The things that I have been attending have been quite well run for the kids and I just wondered how come Lorain can’t do it? I am not going to be involved in running any after school events because folks like Divina probably get paid lots of money to find excuses why Lorain City Schools just can’t do the same things other school districts do.

  • 17. Brian  |  February 17, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    The reason why my question relates to what Loraine has been writing is that the after school events that I am seeing in other school districts is jointly run by the schools and the city rec programs.

    I have nothing against the non profits using the facilities, but with the passage of both the school and city income tax levies I would think that maybe it is time to start a real rec program for the kids.

  • 18. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Brian you asked why doesn’t Lorain City Schools Have?????…….. and Lisa has answered they do as long as the people running the programs meet the criteria…… and has given the information- I don’t see the problem ……

    I mentioned the basketball program late in the evening at Irving caused us problem ( after the supervised activity let out) the “participants ” caused destruction, tagging and mayhem after the “game”…. I don’t want to go through that again…….. or wish it on any other neighborhood…..

    as to other communities – who are the participants( students attending the school system- pay to play) ? where is the “bar” they set..what are their rules … are they using facilities that are in the middle of older neighborhoods plagued by vacant housing, crime RSO and those on parole…… and who pays and is there a charge for the participants……….

    You see I would like to live in a community too that prides itself on a quality of life set higher than set in Lorain……. we have allowed this deterioration and very few of us a trying to do something about it. So therefore it follws the majority don’t care ……unless it specifically effects them in some way……

  • 19. Brian  |  February 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    I still want to know why Lorain doesn’t have the same things that other communities have for their children? I would tend to believe that if the children are from a community of vacant housing, crime, RSO’s and folks on parole that it would be even a better reason to have basketball leagues and other organized activities for kids.

    School systems PAY OTHERS to run programs like I mentioned, not the other way so the mention of residency,rent, insurance, and whatever are just screening tools that are used to exclude the public from using the facilities.

    What is the CRITERIA that is needed for the school system to recognize that Lorain is behind the times? The school system employs some of the most educated groups of individuals in our city that cannot solve simple problems.

  • 20. Loraine Ritchey  |  February 17, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    You aren’t going to like my reply 😦
    “I would tend to believe that if the children are from a community of vacant housing, crime, RSO’s and folks on parole that it would be even a better reason to have basketball leagues and other organized activities for kids.

    yup and just where are these “courts located???? n tyhese neighborhoods!!!!

    and Schools systems pay others errrrrr that is precisely what under Atkinson we did and I should imagine the mentoring etc. and leagues are still out there …. quite frankly Brian I am sick of paying and throwing good money after bad…… a game of basketball isn'[t a fix….. try educating the kids first so they can articulate and hold a responsible place in society and no if there is money to spare in the system then let us put the focus on education not in another basket………

  • 21. Brian  |  February 18, 2013 at 12:07 am

    I agree with you Loraine, but just like housing and our neighborhoods, I think it will take a program!

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February 2013

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