February 22, 2022

Dear DeKalb County School District Community,

DeKalb County School District (DCSD) is committed to the safety and education of all of our students. Essential to this commitment is open communication and transparency with our families regarding safety issues when they arise. For this reason, I’d like to make you aware of recent concerns surrounding our district in the last few weeks.

Our school community has witnessed cases involving bullying, fighting, and other disturbing behavior. What is unfortunate is that violence has been a concern not only in our district, but also across the nation. Many experts have attributed this erratic and troubling behavior to the arrested social emotional development of our students resulting from the pandemic. The physical disconnection our students experienced has manifested into behaviors signaling an outcry for help.

This is deeply concerning. I often say, there is something very special about our district and about our scholars. These recent issues are not representative of our district and should not be used to gauge the character of our students and staff. Nevertheless, there is a small minority whose impact can be disruptive to learning, as well as our vision for our DCSD graduate if not addressed and corrected.

Please know that all threats, student altercations, fights, and violent acts are taken very seriously and are thoroughly investigated. To ensure student equity, excellence, and empowerment in this district, we continue to provide wraparound support and programs to address fighting such as conflict resolution measures, parent meetings, social and emotional support, parent support, and additional public safety resources.

In previous years, DCSD has implemented and continues to utilize programs including My Brother’s Keeper and My Sister’s Keeper, Bullying Stops Here!” Awareness Campaign, See Something, Say Something, parent town halls, and counseling services.  However, we will continue to explore additional trainings, programs, and awareness for teachers and staff, as well as educational opportunities for students and open dialogue, to ensure our district is on the right track.  This is a top priority for our district.

Please also consider the following when talking with your child:

  • Allow your child to talk about feelings. They might not know how to respond and could be looking for your guidance.
  • Watch for signs of trouble. This includes aggression, withdrawal, etc.
  • Work with school staff to encourage positive resolution.
  • Review the Student Social Media Guidelines and Family Social Media Guidelines, which are coming soon.

We will continue to work diligently to ensure our schools are safe, orderly, and conducive to learning. Please discuss with your child the importance of appropriate behavior at school and emphasize the seriousness of disruptions to the learning environment. Student behaviors are governed by the DCSD Code of Student Conduct, which has levels of consequences. Our goal is always to empower our students, allowing them to realize their fullest potential and thrive.

Thank you, community partners, for being a part of our village and your commitment to DCSD scholars.

Superintendent Mrs. Cheryl Watson Harris