OP/ED: GPTC must not close South DeKalb campus

July 23, 20187min51421
WEB-jabarisimama

By Dr. Jabari Simama

First they came for the President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, but I did not speak.

Then they came for the President’s Cabinet,

and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a member of the President’s Cabinet.

Then they came for the GPTC South DeKalb Campus, but I did not speak out—

Because I was not a student at the South DeKalb Campus.

Then they shut down the South DeKalb Campus, gave the Newton Campus to Athens Tech, and

merged Georgia Piedmont with another college—

there was no one left to speak for DeKalb.

I served as President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College for six years and take pride in all the many great things my team and I have done for our community and the college, leading it from a career, vocational school to a 21st century college. Under my leadership, the college scaled to new heights. Among our accomplishments, GPTC elevated enrollment, graduation, completion, and retention rates and posted an almost perfect job placement rate of 99.5%. GPTC students stood out statewide, winning “student of the year” three times in the six years I was at the helm, more than any other technical college president in the state.

We have all witnessed an increase in visibility and relevance of Georgia Piedmont in terms of its tech education, high school dual enrollment, and adult education programs. GPTC has also experienced a remarkable growth in its customized training contracts with business and industry.

My team and I were strong advocates for the students and people of DeKalb County. Two years ago, we opened a campus on Wesley Chapel Rd that now educates over 700 students; and the campus enrollment, if it is not closed down as GPTC is planning to do in December of this year, is poised to grow even more in the future. GPTC has played down the number of DeKalb residents served by the campus by only reporting to media the enrollment of technical education students.

The college’s mission is to serve tech, adult, and business and industry education students. Presidents are required to report on students served in all three of these sectors. Over half of the GPTC students served at the South DeKalb campus are South DeKalb residents trying to better their lives by earning a GED. GPTC has the largest adult education program in the entire technical college system, serving approximately 4,000 students a year.

The college has also recently invested over a million dollars in an advance manufacturing center on GPTC’s Newton County campus where DeKalb students also make up the majority enrollment. In other words, DeKalb residents keep the lights on and pay the bills for all of GPTC.

When I was president, I always understood this and made a return to the county on DeKalb’s investment in the form of the Southside campus. I had the grit to stay the course in the midst of fierce criticism from political and educational leaders in Newton and Morgan counties. The leadership of the school system in Morgan County recently and secretly met with TCSG’s Commissioner to hatched out a deal to allow the school system’s new college and career academy in Morgan County to work exclusively with nearby Athens Tech. Next, they could give the Newton campus to Athens Tech. This would mean DeKalb citizens would be subsidizing Athens Tech at the expense of DeKalb County taxpayers. We all remember the days of taxation without representation and don’t want to go backwards.

Now the new Republican Commissioner of the Technical College System, Matt Arthur, says the college cannot afford the South DeKalb campus, and he wants to shut it down.

He is pushing this narrative at a time when the State is anticipating nearly $4 billion in surplus revenue. He is using as a pretext the amount of money the college spends for operations, including renting the space for the South DeKalb campus. Although GPTC’s budget is approximately the same amount as what had previously been allocated to the college, Arthur has ordered the college to reduce its staff. The college has responded by terminating over 15 employees, mostly African Americans with significant tenure and records of accomplishment, including the leader of the Adult Education program at the South DeKalb campus.

In so far as the South DeKalb campus is concerned, I always considered it an investment in the people and the community. GPTC ignored South DeKalb for nearly 60 years. It is important today that we take a stand for all residents of DeKalb, no matter where they live. What better time than to invest in citizens now that the State is awash in revenue from austerity cuts in education from past years.

I am calling on DeKalb County Commissioners, the DeKalb County Legislative Delegation, the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, and all DeKalb citizens of good will to fight to keep the South DeKalb campus open.

To paraphrase Edmond Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.” Let this not be us. Rise Up DeKalb! Fight to keep open the South DeKalb campus. Fight to ensure our citizens receive the workforce and higher education skills that will lead to sustainable wage jobs so they may one day experiencethe American dream.

Jabari Simama is the former President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College.

21 comments

  • Barbara Williams

    July 23, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    I am attending GPTC in dklab as a GSU-62 student am please let me know what l can do to help l had two Granddaughter that attended you high school programxat GPTC
    bwilliams0316@hotmail.com

    Reply

  • Collette Jordan

    July 23, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    The former president appears to be disgruntle. Is the article fact or fiction? Writing poison is not the way to help a community. It’s time for Jabari Simama to move on and find something constructive to do with his liffe.

    Reply

  • Ima Citizen

    July 23, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Unbelievable. Since when does hemorrhaging money have anything to do with politics parties? The college never should have opened south DeKalb. The college has always served DeKalb County. You are pushing a narrative that is completely false. The only time that college became about politics was when you were in charge.

    Taxation without representation? How? County dollars do not pay for that campus since it converted to state governance. You also conveniently leave out the fact that you live in Fulton County.

    The employees there love the students. You reveal yourself to be one who clearly makes it personal. The college will not discontinue serving the students. The adult education area is not closing. It will continue to serve those seeking a GED. It will also still serve those seeking a diploma or a degree contrary to the tone and tenor of your op ed.

    Political pressure from Morgan County? You consistly ignored the campuses and the students outside of DeKab and now complain that the Morgan area is now with Athens? Maybe if you had tried to establish a relationship with the citizens of those counties there would be no need to move it to a different college.

    It is a little too late to fight for it now once you were removed for mismanaging it. Using inflammatory language and making false allegations is pathetic. The college has not merged. It also has not moved Newton County campuses to another college.

    If you want support for something, maybe you should present facts. Maybe facts are not convenient. Maybe retired should mean retired. For your edification, retired means, “withdrawn from or no longer occupied with one’s business or profession:”

    Reply

  • Evelyn King

    July 24, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    I just wish he would be quiet. He is hurting more of the people he claims to be supporting. Interestingly, he doesn’t address the monetary deficit he left for the college. Where is the money? Why did a large entourage accompany you on all events that you attended? Why did your assistants have to fix your plate? Why did you turn classrooms into offices? Why did you maintain a top heavy administration and not hire instructors and other essential staff? Why did you use foundation funds for golf memberships? Talk about that Mr. Fred Lewis!

    Reply

  • I’m A Student

    July 25, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Wow Really Fred!!! So none of the fallout that GPTC is experiencing is do to your lack of leadership? Amazing! Scripture always says “ Pride goes before the fall”… Own you your mistakes and go away. Damage done Dude!

    Reply

  • Concerned Citizen

    July 25, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    FAKE NEWS!!!

    Reply

  • Concerned DeKalb Citizen

    July 25, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    Jabari Simama just compared himself to a Nazi Holocaust victim because he was fired for stealing money from DeKalb County tax payers.

    That is pretty much all you need to know about that ridiculous drama queen.

    Move on Fred. Go back to Fulton and leave DeKalb alone. We are long sick of you.

    Reply

  • Miles

    July 25, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Simama: “Under my leadership, the college scaled to new heights.”

    Rebuttal: This is the exact opposite of the truth. This is the lowest this college has ever been since its inception. He inherited a top technical college which he nearly decimated in 5 short years. Fortunately, with Simama removed from his reign of terror, the institution is already rebounding thanks to the talented faculty and staff who have always been the source for the successes of the college. Where the college thrived, it did so in spite of Jabari Simama.

    Simama: “GPTC students stood out statewide, winning “student of the year” three times in the six years I was at the helm, more than any other technical college president in the state.”

    Rebuttal: This had absolutely NOTHING to do with him, but rather the result of the brilliant faculty. If you ask the students, they will tell you that they hated the Simama administration, but loved the faculty. None of the achievements of the college could be credited to Jabari Simama who was not inside the classroom, or securing necessary funding needed to educate, but who was busying himself giving self-serving speeches, misappropriating college funds, and playing golf at country clubs.

    Simama: “Two years ago, we opened a campus on Wesley Chapel Rd that now educates over 700 students; and the campus enrollment, if it is not closed down as GPTC is planning to do in December of this year, is poised to grow even more in the future. GPTC has played down the number of DeKalb residents served by the campus by only reporting to media the enrollment of technical education students.”

    Rebuttal: The South DeKalb campus is being moved, not shut down. Jabari Simama should check his sources; they are as wrong as he is. The reason the campus is being moved is because $27,000 a month in rent is not serving the best interests of the college.

    Simama: “The leadership of the school system in Morgan County recently and secretly met with TCSG’s Commissioner to hatched out a deal to allow the school system’s new college and career academy in Morgan County to work exclusively with nearby Athens Tech. Next, they could give the Newton campus to Athens Tech.”

    Rebuttal: Once again, Jabari Simama has no idea what he is talking about. This is blatantly false and without merit, like everything that comes out of his mouth.

    Simama: “Now the new Republican Commissioner of the Technical College System, Matt Arthur, says the college cannot afford the South DeKalb campus, and he wants to shut it down.”

    Rebuttal: Jabari Simama had no problem when Republican Governor Nathan Deal appointed him to the position in 2012. It was a position he was unqualified to fill.

    Simama: “The college has responded by terminating over 15 employees, mostly African Americans with significant tenure and records of accomplishment, including the leader of the Adult Education program at the South DeKalb campus.”

    Rebuttal: Surprising it took Jabari Simama so long to play the race card. He was renowned for his Afro-centricity, his disdain for white people, and his propensity to hire people because of their skin color rather than their credentials. He frequently ignored TCSG policy and appointed people to Vice Presidencies, circumventing the open hiring process. Plenty of African Americans celebrated his removal from the college, because who wants a corrupt, inept and racist role model serving in your community?

    “Let this not be us. Rise Up DeKalb! Fight to keep open the South DeKalb campus. Fight to ensure our citizens receive the workforce and higher education skills that will lead to sustainable wage jobs so they may one day experience the American dream.”

    Rebuttal: As someone stated in a comment above, Jabari Simama lives in Fulton County. DeKalb citizens wish he would go back there and leave us alone. He’s done enough damage. Faculty and staff celebrated his departure, and wish he would spend his time doing something productive rather than trying to meddling in affairs that are no longer his. If he cares about helping people, he will go do that. This is the exact opposite of helping.

    Perhaps the saddest fact of all is that Fred Lewis himself came from a background of poverty, and through the kindness of others, was able to rise up. Instead of using his influence to guide others out, he used it to make himself an even richer man at their expense. It’s time for the people of DeKalb county to look to a future without him. If we want a cheerleader, we will find one of our own.

    Reply

      • Miles

        July 26, 2018 at 5:19 pm

        As Edmund Burke said: ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’

        Thank you for speaking out too.

        Reply

  • Enjoying everyones comments

    July 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Soooo true, word for word, I so wanted to write but you said it all Miles, thank you!
    @ DeKalb we celebrate his absence every day. Thank God over 5 years of nightmare is over
    Simama! No one misses you and your mandatory fake self-center speeches, talking about nothing wasting everyone time.
    As Obama took office in Washington DC, you built your white house here acting as him, hiring a speech writer, photographer, umbrella holder, driver, cheer leader, event organizer and a mate to heat your lunch and wash your dishes all in your office suite ……
    He not only he broke us financially bigtime, heartlessly broke the spirit of caring family that was built during college history, letting all the good caring knowledgeable staff go and replaced them with incompetent, no experienced and knowledge about nothing (I mean nothing).
    Just like he said on his first inauguration speech: there will be changes and you will feel the difference …we sure did see a very bad changes and differences, you smashed us financially …… congratulation you accomplished at least one thing
    To Simama: We will survive without you, we will work harder and do our best to be even better than we were before you….you just sit back and be retired and watch us but don’t come on media and try to help us bring your own dirty laundry out

    Reply

    • Miles

      July 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply

  • S

    July 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    What a sad state of affairs GPTC is going through. Though I’ve never attended the college,I knew several people and had a couple of friends there while attending school at Georgia Perimeter College (Georgia State University – GPC) in Clarkston and Decatur campuses.

    The scenario that is taking place with GPTC reminds me of what took place at Morris Brown College with the finances. I’m bugged by this because the administrators have their degrees/certificates while their current students are trying to get theirs.Im hoping that the issues with GPTC can get resolved ASAP and that the school will not have it’s accreditation revoked.Not only will be a Black eye for the state of Georgia but,but for DeKalb county and mostly for the students of the college.

    Reply

  • Abby Clayton

    July 26, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    One of Simama’s inner cabinet member instructed some supervisors to strongly encourage (almost to the point of bullying) employees to donate to the foundation. Then turns around and presents year-end bonuses as if it was his gift to employees. Simama had a close relative to transition and a bereavement announcement along with the relative’s obituary from the hometown newspaper was distributed to all employees. The obituary included Simama’s birth name along with his adopted African name. The employee responsible for the bereavement notice was terminated. Use your retirement to seek treatment for your narcissism and fade back into your days of jungle fever.

    Reply

  • Disgruntled Community Partner

    July 26, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    It disheartens me to see the turn of events that have taken place at GA Piedmont. I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with two wonderful young ladies through the college’s center of entrepreneurship—Ms. Hubbard and Ms. Porter. These two ladies worked tirelessly to build relationships in the community including the strong partnership that they built with my place of employment. I often noticed that the entrepreneurship center was not supported by administrators but often saw the elaborate shows that were put on for events that were backed by former president Simama and his entourage. If former president Simama would have supported the wonderful initiatives that his amazing faculty and staff were coordinating instead of promoting his own self centered initiatives then the college would be in a much better place. It is also important that I speak on the treatment of women at the institution as I witnessed at several events the male chauvinist treatment that former president Simama displayed. As I work in the finance industry I was quite appalled when I viewed open records for salaries at the college and discovered that all of the women directors in the economic development unit made more than $25,000 less than the male director—this gentleman turned out to be a friend of former president Simama. I hope that these types of prejudice are now being removed from the college. I am disappointed that the entrepreneurship center is now being eliminated after all of the efforts that I witnessed from Ms. Hubbard and Ms. Porter in the communities. I hope that the college is able to rebound from the malicious acts of Simama and his entourage.

    Reply

  • Time To Move On

    July 29, 2018 at 8:14 am

    It’s time for Jabari Simama to move on. He was given the opportunity to serve GPTC, but instead used it to serve himself. He’s pretending to care about South DeKalb when what he actually cares about is his legacy. It’s too late for that Fred. You made your choices, and the consequences of them are that you are no longer welcome in DeKalb County. You cannot redeem yourself now with false platitudes after you spent years cheating the citizens of this County. It’s unfortunate that all you got was removed from the trough. You deserve to be behind bars. Be grateful that you aren’t, and stop with these public tantrums where you believe yourself to be the victim. We all know better, and we will call you out every time. So long, good-bye, good riddance. Our future without you looks bright.

    Reply

  • More Real Facts

    August 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

    One correction Miles… Jabari (Fred) was hired by Republician Commissioner Ron Jackson at pressure of the minority community. Ron reported to Nathan Deal. Also, don’t forget those lunches almost everyday using foundation funds.

    Reply

  • Enough

    August 12, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    ENOUGH of this arrogant, ignorant, narcissistic joke of a leader! The college thrived for over 50 years and he nearly destroyed it in 5. Between the issues in DeKalb County and now Ga Piedmont Tech, it makes one wonder: why is this man not in jail?? Fred, you are NOT missed and your departure was celebrated. In addition, these ill informed comments are laughable and serve to make you look more foolish than you already did. Sit down and be quiet! You’ve done enough damage.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


About us

On Common Ground News is published daily by On Common Ground, Inc (OCGNEWS.COM). The newspaper serves DeKalb, Gwinnett, Rockdale and Metro Atlanta.

The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher or the newspaper’s advertisers.

No portion of this newspaper may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher.

We reserve the right to reject material and advertisements we deem inappropriate.


On Common Ground News
P.O. Box 904
Lithonia, GA 30058


(770) 679-5607

editor@ocgnews.com


Latest News


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: On Common Ground News, 1240 Sigman Road, Conyers, GA, 30012, http://www.ocgnews.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact