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In Case You Missed It: Cobb teacher fired for putting child in trash can

Mary Katherine Pursley, a veteran Cobb County special education teacher accused of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can and calling him Oscar the Grouch, went before a tribunal at the school system headquarters on June 22, 2015. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM


The Cobb County School Board Thursday voted to terminate the contract of an East Cobb special education teacher accused of putting a second-grader with autism in a trash can.

Mary Katherine Pursley, a teacher at Mt. Bethel Elementary, said at a tribunal hearing Monday at the Cobb school district office that she was trying to calm the child, not hurt him. She said the child was screaming and upset at an after-school program and she was attempting to get him to stop by holding him over a trash can to “shake out the grouchy,” comparing his behavior to Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street,

“My intention was not to put him all the way in the can,” Pursley told a panel of former educators at the hearing. “I was sort of shaking him over the trash can.”

The board voted to terminate the teacher’s contract for the 2015-16 school year.

Attorneys for the school system argued Pursley “engaged in inappropriate physical contact” with the student. Pursley has been with the school district for 21 years and has been on administrative leave with pay following the April 30 incident.

Pursley, 45, who was arrested and charged with cruelty to children in the first degree, is accused of talking with the “victim about Oscar the Grouch and his ‘trashy behavior’” during the after-school program, Pursley’s arrest warrant states. “The accused told the victim, ‘If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can.’”

Pursley then allegedly picked up the child by his legs, held him upside down and put him head-first into a trash can, according to police.

The boy was crying, screaming and yelling “stop” while Pursley held him, the arrest warrant states. She then set him down on the floor. The incident was witnessed by two paraprofessionals and the school’s after-school director. Other students in the classroom also witnessed Pursley’s actions, according to police.

Pursley, of Atlanta, was released from jail last month after posting $5,000 bond.

Pursley’s attorney Warren Fortson said her behavior was not inappropriate and she should not be fired. He said Pursley used characters like Oscar the Grouch to help calm special education students. He also noted that a recent evaluation of Pursley said she was proficient and doing her job well.

(Source: Click HERE for the original article.

School Board approves FY2016 Budget: Highlights include no furloughs and 4% raise

The Cobb County Board of Education approved a $944 million budget for Fiscal Year 2016 during its May 28, 2015 meeting, funding a full 180-day school year. The new budget includes no furlough days, a 4 percent raise for all employees and also provides for full step pay increases for all eligible employees. Fiscal Year 2016 begins July 1, 2015 and runs through June 30, 2016.

The FY2016 General Fund Budget includes $924,876,857 in revenue and $944,876,857 in expenditures. The budget is based on a predicted enrollment of 111,751 students. The district’s careful implementation of significant budget reductions over the past years, along with prudent financial management, has left the district in a better financial position than many had anticipated. As a result, the district plans to use $20.0 million in revenue reserve to offset the shortfall in revenue. The Cobb County School District has remained debt free since the last principle and interest payment was made on January 31, 2007.

After several years of economic downturn, CCSD is starting to experience a rebound in our two primary revenue streams – state funding and local property tax collections. State of Georgia Quality Basic Education (QBE) revenue provides approximately 50.44% of Cobb’s revenue from predetermined formulas. The revenue related to these formulas is calculated based on the total number of students. Local Property Tax Revenue generates approximately 49.08% of Cobb’s revenue. The value of property in Cobb is taxed using a tax rate called millage. The Board of Education is responsible for setting the millage tax rate each year. Taxpayers in Cobb have enjoyed some of the lowest taxes in Metro Atlanta during this time period.

“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we have carefully and responsibly prepared the FY2016 Budget.” says CCSD Superintendent Chris Ragsdale. “This budget reflects the mission of the Cobb County School District to provide teaching and other appropriate educational services. The mandates for improving education services coupled with the large student population place significant challenges upon the budget to maintain spending controls. The Budget is a prudent plan that balances the many needs of our students with the economic realities of our community.”

Detailed information and documentation about the approved Fiscal Year 2016 Budget and development process are available under the Finance and Budget section of the Cobb County School District website:


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New school administrators announced



Sedalia Park and Norton Park elementary schools, Dodgen Middle School, and Wheeler and North Cobb high schools have new leaders appointed by the Cobb County School Board.

Here are the new positions to be announced tonight:

Sedalia Park Principal Jennifer Lawson, who has been principal since 2011, has been appointed as assistant superintendent of teaching and learning effective June 1. Lawson will see her salary increase from $92,926 to $109,835.

Norton Park Principal Doug Daugherty, who has been at Norton Park since 2007 and with Cobb schools since 1998, was appointed principal of Sope Creek Elementary on April 30. His salary of $101,328 remains the same.

Dodgen Middle School Principal Phil Wilkes is retiring after working in the district since 1986. His outgoing salary is $92,720.

Wheeler High Principal David Chiprany has been with Wheeler since 2009 and with Cobb schools since 1994. He is taking a position as assistant superintendent of middle schools in the leadership and learning division effective June 1. His existing salary of $115,087 will remain the same.

(Sourced from The Marietta Daily Journal)

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InVenture a Great Experience for Elementary Students

Source: Cobb County Schools


This year, the Georgia Tech InVenture Challenge was open to elementary students for the first time. Students from four elementary schools — Cheatham Hill Elementary School, Due West Elementary School, Mountain View Elementary School and Murdock Elementary School — competed and explained their innovative inventions on campus. Students created useful new products like the Cold To Go, which keeps ice cream cold in a portable container.

The InVenture Challenge introduces young students to the world of engineering and entrepreneurship, and pushes them to be creative, out of the box thinkers and problem solvers. Nancy Ernstes, a gifted teacher at Cheatham Hill Elementary says of the experience, “This process really relates well to all of our standards, and we like for students to collaborate and come up with real world ideas.” She says the challenge enables the young inventors to believe that their ideas are powerful and can change the world.

(See more at:


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Cobb Schools Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week


“This is the week we recognize the remarkable contributions of our teachers, among the best in the country,” Superintendent Ragsdale said as Teacher Appreciation Week kicked off in Cobb.

“Our teachers are doing great work, and they should be celebrated every day for the excellence we see in Cobb classrooms. I want to say thank you to all of our teachers for their dedication, their expertise, and the great work they do with students every day. The success of our school district is a result of the work our teachers are doing.”

May 4-8 marks Teacher Appreciation Week, which is being celebrated through hashtag #thankagateacher, as well as through statewide notes of appreciation.


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Cobb Schools’ KiDtalk Contest First of its Kind

The Cobb County School District is running a student contest that is the first of its kind. Designed to give students the forum to share their groundbreaking ideas to an audience of their teachers, the contest invites students in all grades and of all ages to record a “talk” that focuses on great, innovative, and interesting ideas from the minds of kids.

Called KiDtalk, the K is for Knowledge, the I for Innovation and the D for Deeper Learning. Knowledge, Innovation and Deeper Learning are three essential components of teaching and learning for Cobb students, according to Director of Instruction and Innovation, Melissa Morse. “This is a perfect combination of engaging student learning, using relevant social and video platforms to keep the connection real for students and letting student voice inspire. Our students love the challenge of high-level learning and the KiDtalk contest is the perfect forum for students of any age to make their thinking relevant and their insight be heard.”

KiDtalk is inspired by the hugely successful online presentation forum known as TED Talks (Technology, Entertainment and Design) which feature innovative thinkers and leaders from around the world, sharing their ideas and expertise, free of charge. The power of TED Talks is unmatched and this innovative contest with student voice at its heart puts the power in the hands of those who know student learning best: the students themselves.

Seventh grader, Justin Johnson, recorded the KiDtalk model. He says KiDtalk is the perfect forum for Cobb students. “It’s a great way for us, the students, to have teachers and all grown-ups, really, understand where we’re coming from, what we’re saying, how we can impact our community and our world.” Johnson is breaking new ground in teaching and learning through his pioneering presentation about KiDtalk. The emphasis in Cobb Schools’ classrooms is on student learning engagement and taking it to newer, deeper levels. Through the simple question of “Why not?” students are encouraged to embrace the theme that allows them to aspire, inspire and achieve through video recordings they make to tell their story.

For Justin Johnson, the opportunity to record his own KiDtalk is a dream come true. “I’m so excited to be able to record my own talk, and to hopefully get my peers excited about deeper learning and student engagement. Asking “Why not?” is something kids do all the time… why not put it to good use?” Johnson says he’s hopeful his peers will want to enter not only for the fun of the contest but also to practice presenting and speaking on video, just like the global leaders found on TED Talks.

The contest is open to all students in Cobb County Schools (grades K-12). The videos are limited to a maximum time of 10 minutes. Students can submit their videos until May 11, 2015, when online voting begins to determine the top ten videos submitted. From that top ten list, a panel of judges picks the overall winner of the best KiDtalk in the district. The winner is the special guest and featured student speaker joins one of the country’s foremost authorities on student aspirations and voice, Dr. Russ Quaglia at the 2015-16 Cobb County School District Teacher Kick-off.


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Relay for Life & Cobb Schools team up

Relay Captain, K-12 Math Supervisor Michelle Mikes (in blue) with her Relay team and CCSD supporters


Cobb Schools’ Relay for Life team celebrated a weekend of caring with fundraising and photos!

“We have the best employees — they always put their heart into the Relay campaign, and as a district, we are showing how much we care for our community through these acts of support,” said Michelle Mikes, K-12 Math Supervisor and CCSD Relay Team Captain.

“The luminaria dedication ceremony is always especially meaningful and emotional for everyone. Cobb staff are showing their support for loved ones through personally designed luminaria bags, and we hold fundraising events throughout the year. Our staff has been tremendous again this year, raising almost $7,000 for Relay. Thank you to everyone who contributes and volunteers at Jim Miller Park.”

The CCSD team attended the annual event atJim Miller Parkthis weekend. The event continues to bring supporters in the fight against cancer together for a walk that honors survivors and lives lost to the disease.


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Cobb Named a 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District

Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to announce the Cobb County School District in Marietta, Georgia is among the 2015 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and District Sustainability Awardees.

The Cobb County School District is thrilled to be recognized for its important commitment to sustainable practices. This award celebrates the district’s longstanding dedication to reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of all who enjoy teaching, learning and working in our schools, and effective environmental education. Cobb schools are recognized for their leadership in environmental stewardship, health and sustainability and for inspiring everyone in the district to aim high.

Cobb County School District’s excellence in sustainability is well recognized in the U.S. Department of Education’s Three Pillars of environmental achievement:

  1. Reduce environmental impact and costs;
  2. Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
  3. Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale says, “As one of only 14 districts of the over 13,000 nationwide, it is a distinct honor to receive this award. This is reflective of our District’s commitment to building and maintaining schools that are both healthy and economically efficient.”

Deputy Superintendent, John Adams, oversees district operations. He says, “This is a significant achievement for our district and one that we all greatly appreciate.”

In total, across the country, 58 schools and 14 districts were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways. Duncan and Goldfuss made the announcement at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. Within Cobb County Schools, Big Shanty Intermediate School is also recognized as a Green Ribbon School.

“These honorees are compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments,” Duncan said. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and deserve the spotlight for embodying strong examples of innovative learning and civic engagement.”

The schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions were confirmed from a pool of candidates voluntarily nominated by 30 state education agencies, with honorees selected from 28 jurisdictions. The list of 81 total selectees includes 52 public schools and six private schools. The list of all selected schools and districts as well as their nomination packages, can be found here. A report with highlights on the 81 honorees can be foundhere. More information on the award can be found here. More about Cobb County Schools can be found here.

(Source: Cobb County Schools) 

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Cobb County School District is giving our students Office for FREE


In order to help students prepare for success, Cobb County Schools is providing Microsoft Office 365 to every student free of charge. With Office 365, your child will now have access to the latest version of Word for writing;

Excel for spreadsheets; PowerPoint for presentations; OneNote for organization and note taking; and much more!

  • Install on up to 5 compatible PCs and Macs plus 5 mobile devices.
  • Gain valuable skills on the world’s most popular productivity software.
  • Office 365 subscription lasts for as long as your child is a student in Cobb County Schools and the program continues.

Your child will need his/her new Office 365 account information to sign in. You will receive your new account information via email after you accept the terms and conditions.

Parents of Cobb County students should have received an email with installation instructions. If you haven’t received this email or have questions, please contact your child’s school.

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Cobb Schools’ Hiring Fair 2-6pm TODAY



Set up and last minute preparations are underway on site at McEachern HS for Cobb County Schools’ Hiring Fair for certified teachers. Overwhelming response prompted a venue change to accommodate the expected numbers, according to Kevin Kiger, Executive Director of Employment. “We have so much interest in coming to work for our district that we are moving the event to McEachern High School to handle the volume of applicants. The larger capacity of McEachern allows us to give applicants a better experience and the event a touch of Cobb. Right now, we have more than 1,500 people registered to attend. It’s amazing!” Potential candidates have been in contact with HR from across the country.

It’s the first hiring fair in 8 years for Cobb County Schools. “This is an amazing district in which to work. As the 2nd largest school system in the state we offer teacher candidates a great place to live, work and play,” said Kiger. “This tremendous response is not only a sign that there is a healthy job market for employment in education but also a sign of Cobb’s well-known reputation for excellence. Our teacher support programs are second to none and our staff development and New Teacher Institute provide the professional foundation for a long and successful career in education.”

Kiger says several hundred new, certified teaching positions will be available at all levels of instruction. The Educator Hiring Fair puts teachers face to face with school administrators in a relaxed, personal setting giving both the opportunity to talk directly about teaching and learning in the diverse, dynamic district. Cobb County schools have more than 111,000 students, in thriving, suburban neighborhoods. The Cobb County School District is the county’s largest employer, with more than 13,500 employees.

“All schools will be attending the Hiring Fair,” according to Kiger, “so it’s an ideal time for potential members of the Cobb teaching family to make a great first impression on principals, who will be there to meet the candidates first hand and to set up interviews. It’s still a competitive market; we’re looking for the best educators in the state to join the Cobb team.” Kiger adds that new hires will benefit not only from the opportunity to work with what he considers the best school district in the Southeast but also from the support of the well-respected and highly-regarded teaching staff. “Our mission is Creating and Supporting Pathways for Success and our teachers do that every day – it’s evidenced by our educators’ commitment to the district focus: One Team, One Goal: Student Success. Our teachers are the key to putting our students on a pathway to success now and in the future.”

Kiger says if potential teacher candidates need more incentive, they can consider that Cobb teachers are consistently recognized as leaders in education. Over fifty percent of the teachers in Cobb County hold advanced degrees and approximately one hundred teachers are National Board Certified. CCSD’s commitment to 21st century digital and multimedia learning is well-known, with technology-rich classrooms, the latest education technology in the hands of every student and teacher as well as personal laptop computers for teachers to support cutting-edge classroom instruction. “It just doesn’t get any better than teaching in Cobb,” Kiger says, “so we’re very excited to meet the next group of exemplary educators who are ready to join the Cobb family!”

More information about teaching for Cobb County Schools can be found at

  Cobb County School District Educator Hiring Fair
TODAY: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
McEachern High School,
2400 New Macland Road Powder Springs, 30127


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