Your source for clear and precise news about media reports related to DeKalb County School District (DCSD).

Setting the Record Straight Periodically, the district will use this forum to clarify news reports regarding its activities. The district believes its constituents are entitled to the complete story, and will always work to keep you well informed.

This edition clarifies a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution regarding land that will house the new Smoke Rise Elementary School.


“I have not been able to get evidence of thorough due diligence from the county,” she said. “All the sites they looked at had some risk associated. I was looking for some write-up on eliminating (risk concerns). There’s none.”

DCSD will not place a school in a location that will be harmful to students. Prior to the purchase of the property, the district conducted an extensive environmental review of the site via a third-party professional engineering firm, Matrix Engineering Group, Inc.

The engineer’s finding, based on the firm’s Risk Hazard Analysis and Evaluation, was that the site is suitable for the proposed Smoke Rise Elementary School provided that the mitigation measures listed below be implemented:

  • Minimize the use of large glass windows (max. 6 foot and 8 foot high) for a portion of the facility.
  • Utilize shatterproof glass windows for the building’s southern elevations.
  • All exterior walls should be of steel reinforced masonry construction with brick veneer.
  • Locate the buildings as far away from Hugh Howell Road as possible.
  • Create a barrier along the southern boundary of the property such as an architectural wall. The wall should be a reinforced masonry or concrete wall with a minimum height of four (4) feet.
  • Design of air handling and ventilation systems should incorporate engineering controls to prevent intrusion of hazardous airborne contaminant.
  • Prepare an emergency preparedness plan to address the potential hazards.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan consistent with the type of hazards identified to provide for efficient and timely evacuation of the buildings in case of an emergency.
  • A fence is recommended on all sides of the property.

As a result of this third-party environmental and hazard analysis, the Georgia Department of Education Facilities Services Unit approved the site location for the new Smoke Rise Elementary School, subject to the inclusion of the mitigating measure noted above.


“An email from the DeKalb County fire marshal says the site is dangerously close to a hazardous materials manufacturer.”

DCSD had discussions with the DeKalb County Fire and Rescue (DCFR) Department regarding the state of the property. At no time did the department indicate that it would be illegal or harmful to students to build on the property.

The Fire Chief offered an advisory opinion, which was reviewed by the district and considered. DCFR and DCSD will continue its ongoing discussions regarding the implementation of the specific mitigating measures as part of our collaborative site planning review process for major construction projects.

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