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DeKalb parents, state officials, pressure school board members over conditions

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- State officials and parents are putting pressure on DeKalb County school board members to address poor conditions in school buildings following the decision to fire the superintendent.  Additionally, the district is being called to account to address conditions in the schools.

Dr. Rochelle Bradford's 16-year-old twins are among the students still attending classes at Druid Hills High School. This is despite a video the children made that showed mold, leaks, and sewage issues inside the high school. The video was shown to school board members prior to their decision to fire the superintendent.

"There's no more time. There's no more pushing it down the road. Some things need to be fixed immediately," said Bradford. "This is not just a Druid Hills issue. This is a DeKalb County issue."

State School Superintendent Richard Woods directed a formal reprimand to the DeKalb County School District this week. In letters delivered to the school board, Woods called the issues "unacceptable," and even pointed out how the school district has failed to use available funding to address the issues. Woods also criticized the board's decision to fire Dr. Cheryl Watson-Harris as superintendent.

"She was only in there for a couple of years, so by their own admission, this didn't start with just her," Bradford said.

The school board hired Dr. Vasanne Tinsley as interim superintendent this week and defended its decision at a press conference on Wednesday.

"The challenges that we have dealt with in our school district were being ignored in some ways," said School Board Chairperson Vickie Turner.

Ga. Gov. Brian Kemp issued a statement regarding the situation surrounding the DeKalb School Board situation.

"I am highly concerned that these serious issues in DeKalb County could be a result of a school system choosing politics over students, families, and educators, and as governor of the State of Georgia, I take very seriously my job to advocate for all Georgia citizens – especially our most valuable resource, our students," Kemp's statement said. "My office will remain in close communication with the Georgia Department of Education on these issues to determine what further action is needed."

All sides say it's about the students.

"They (the students) advocated for their own safety and for their own health, and they really deserve all the credit," Bradford said.

According to Woods' letter dated April 27, 2022, his office is planning immediate corrective action.

"So far, it's been all talk. We will believe it when we see it, but that has not been the case so far," Bradford said.

CW69 News reach out to the school board for comment on Thursday afternoon. As of this point, we have yet to receive a response. In a statement earlier this week, Tinsley had announced that the school district was assessing the situation and that more details would be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

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