The former co-chair of the Peachtree Charter Middle School Foundation has filed a complaint against DeKalb Board of Education member Stan Jester, saying she felt threatened by him during a recent meeting with him and other school administrators.

Allegra Johnson, a longtime school volunteer, filed the complaint with the DeKalb County School District on Jan. 5. She resigned her post last month as co-chair of the foundation, citing her concerns about Jester’s behavior toward her that included him saying he would “come after her” and calling her a “bully.”

Stan Jester.

Jester says Johnson’s allegations were unfounded and he did not threaten her.

“I do not feel secure in making decisions or suggestions for PCMS because of this current situation,” Johnson wrote in her resignation letter, obtained from DCSD. “I believe they may infuriate Mr. Jester and lead to other verbal recourse against me or my family.”

Johnson declined to comment.

A DCSD spokesperson said the board will be considering the complaint, but details were not known at press time. DCSD does not have a separate ethics board. Superintendent Stephen Green declined to comment about the allegations.

According to the complaint, Johnson said she and PCMS Foundation co-chair Fran Bartel met Dec. 14 with Jester, Green and school board chair Melvin Johnson to discuss Jester’s recent questioning of the PCMS Foundation’s purchase of 80 iPads for $23,500 at the Dec. 4 school board meeting.

That discussion led to discussion of Jester’s “Fact Checker” blog, which Johnson criticized for being too critical of people and the school district.

“Mr. Jester threatened to ‘come after’ me personally for raising the issue of his disparaging comments. His tone and manner caused me enough fear that I have submitted my resignation to the PCMS Foundation,” she stated. “Mr. Jester also was allowed to name-call; baselessly accusing me of being a ‘bully.’”

“In addition to the groundless delay of the iPad approval, the Foundation had concerns with Mr. Jester’s use of social media to disparage school councils and to criticize PCMS where his son attends. Multiple times Mr. Jester has mocked and ridiculed school councils on his ‘Fact Checker’ blog,” she stated in the complaint.

In an email, Jester said he had seen the complaint and it was his understanding that no action was going to be taken by the board. He also noted that his daughter went to PCMS for three years and now attends Dunwoody High School and that he has a son in his second year at PCMS. Each year he has donated to the PCMS Foundation, he said.

“While I appreciate the volunteering that Ms. Johnson has done over the years, she and I have disagreed on a number of issues concerning the Dunwoody school cluster,” Jester said in the email.

“Last year we disagreed about which plan would be best with respect to high school over-crowding. She also seems frustrated that I communicate my thoughts and opinions about school district matters in a transparent and open forum on my blog,” he said.

“I am left to surmise that Ms. Johnson is displeased with any public discussion of her thoughts or her work and advocacy, particularly on my blog,” Jester said. “I reject the notion that I have mocked or ridiculed anyone.”

As for his questions about the iPad purchase last month that delayed the board approving the purchase, Jester said he requested to see basic financial statements of the PCMS Foundation.

“This was a perfunctory request and one that I viewed as simple,” he said.

The school district was slow in providing the information and at the Dec. 4 school board meeting the information was not available, Jester said. He asked to defer the vote and the superintendent and board members agreed.

“It is puzzling why this routine deferral created such a truculent reaction from Ms. Johnson,” Jester said. He added he is currently reviewing the financial information provided by the PCMS Foundation.

As for the Johnson’s allegations that Jester threatened to “come after” her, Jester said his exact words were, “If you come after me, I will come after you and defend myself.”

“My use of the word ‘you’ in that sentence was an indefinite pronoun,” he said.

He said his comment was made after Johnson stated she didn’t like a November 2016 post on his blog titled “Chesnut ES and Kingsley ES Not a Fan of Their School Board Rep.”

The post included an email from the Chesnut Elementary Parent Teacher Council and Kingsley Elementary Parent Teacher Organization to the DeKalb school board as well as Superintendent Green and other school administrators concerning ESPLOST project plans that fund PCMS and DHS building additions.

The councils of both elementary schools wanted the school board to know they supported the additions as a way to allow their students to remain in the Dunwoody cluster. They objected to Jester publicly stating his opposition to the addition that he said would add 600 students to DHS.

“By promoting the misconception that 600 students will be added to the high school, Mr. Jester — who surely knows that in fact the plan allows for an enrollment of 267 net new students by 2022 (as DHS’ current enrollment already stands at 321 over capacity) — can only be attempting to incite opposition to the DHS addition,” stated Terri Young and Carrie Willard, chairs of the Chesnut and Kingsley councils at the time.
Jester said the email was emailed to public officials and therefore was not required to be kept private.

“I explained to Allegra that they emailed the board, administration and many of the elected officials around town at our public email addresses, so there was no intent of privacy,” Jester said. “In that email, they came after me. Subsequent to that explanation, my exact words were, ‘If you come after me, I will come after you and defend myself.’”

In December 2016, the DeKalb school board voted 6-1 to approve $16.9 million for a two-story addition and 29 classrooms at Dunwoody High School. Jester cast the lone “no” vote.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

19 replies on “DeKalb school board member target of complaint alleging threat”

  1. “If you come after me, I will come after you and defend myself.” That is alarming. If he said “If you come after me, I will defend myself,” that would be valid and rational.

    No matter which way Mr. Jester tries to slice it, he made a threat and now is covering his tracks. Mr. Jester uses his blog as a forum to bully. I for one don’t blame Mrs. Johnson for stepping down. Who wants to volunteer in a leadship capacity with him on the BOE? Last I read, he is calling for “Open Records” for the names of the people on the calendar committee. I understand why they wanted anonymity. Who, as a volunteer, wants their name and e-mail out there for unhappy people to come after? Ok folks, sit back and wait for his wife to come to his defense.

    As for the Kingsley and Chestnut letter, even if public officials were copied, it was completely unnecessary for him to share anything other than the body of the letter (the most import part). Sharing e-mails was baiting. Cry me a river. You chose to become a public official. You opened yourself up to criticism. Defend yourself without coming after others or baiting like-minded people to do so.

    Finally, good for him, he donates to the Foundation of his children’s school! What person with means, and who has a child in the District, doesn’t? The schools are underfunded.

    1. Really? I bet you go around saying you want more transparent government and when that transparency reveals your tackiness, you cry foul. Hypocrisy much? It’s ok. I hope Mr. Jester does write about this in his blog. I’ve got a lot to say their about what goes on at that school. I’ll be commenting. Passive aggressive bullies always try and shut down their prey. They can’t take the heat. No wonder Peachtree has a bullying problem. Everyone knows it. Bye Felicia!

  2. The indefinite pronouns defense … lol … right. I wasn’t telling her she was the “you” in the threat – she just happened to have the face I was talking to at the moment. The grammatically correct “you” I was addressing was just a “you” in general, under the right circumstances, hypothetically, in the future, and in a different way might be wise to fear me. The Mafia is more subtle. Sheesh.

  3. I don’t know where to begin with this. So, parents email concerns over their board member to other elected officials and then this board member sees the need to disparage or threaten these parents? Mr. Jester would be wise to reconsider the holding of his position if he can’t take and respond to concerns and criticisms in a way that doesn’t create mistrust and division among himself and his constituents. If parents and students can’t safely communicate with their board member – he doesn’t belong being one. The 100K kids in DeKalb are far more important than this one man and his easily bruised ego.

  4. Once again Stan Jester plays the bully card, in his position as a self-serving, condescending member of DeKalb School Board. His kind of leadership is just one of many reasons I would never send my kids to the DeKalb public schools.

    He’s a shameless self-promoting, self-absorbed educational “leader” – what a joke!

  5. Good for Mr. Jester. Someone should stand up to some of these parents. I won’t volunteer at PCMS because the environment is so hostile. Somebody needs to be looking into that. Some of the parents are to blame. If everything were so rosy at the middle school you wouldn’t see so many kids leave for middle and come back to the high school.

    1. Sara please give specific examples where the environment is hostile at PCMS? I am a first year parent there and have had nothing but great experiences.

      In life you reap what you sow…..

  6. Parents raise money for kids. Jester casts the sole no vote b/c he has a vendetta against Dr. Green and Middle School Principal. Kids are deprived of instructional technology and donations sit idle. That simple.

  7. The local political cage match caused by entitled parents makes the current battles in congress look like a walk in the park. It’s shameful. Have any of these parents ever met and talked with Stan Jester in person? Have any of these parents ever stepped up to put their name on a ballot, in effect subjecting themselves and their entire family to constant scrutiny and harassment? If not, then please take a minute to pause and think about the example you are setting for your children. Mr. Jester and his family have devoted their lives to public service and saying he will defend himself when attacked is not an attack. Stan Jester is a devoted family man, taxpayer and advocate for government transparency at all levels. Time to take a look at how we can work together instead of constantly attacking. Our children are watching.

    1. Seems to me that Ms. Johnson is a devoted family woman, taxpayer, has devoted her life to public service… was even elected to her position too I’m sure… but doesn’t have a paycheck of course.

      Question: Given the above… How is Mr. Jester superior to the many parent volunteers like Ms. Johnson who seem to be subject to Mr. Jester‘s bullying tactics?

      Answer: He’s abusive of his power. The others are his victims. That’s how.

  8. Saying you will come after someone is an attack. It is not becoming of a public servant, yet is strikingly and unfortunately familiar. If you think you’re right and she’s wrong, defend yourself. State your argument. Don’t come after a mom who has volunteered HER time and expertise. Yes, we know your nuclear button is bigger. Take pause and think about how you’re treating your constituents. This is not what I prefer my children to be watching.

  9. Kind of off topic.
    May I ask : As to the break down of students make up?
    Where students live ?
    Homes verses Apartments ? Just curious.
    Where all the increase of student population
    is coming from.
    Not that many new homes being built in the area.
    Is there more you family’s moving into Dunwoody
    with children (school age) or are the apartments
    contributing to school over crowding .
    I my self look at Kingsley in the morning and
    do not see a large number of kids coming to school directly from the neighborhood.

    When I 1st moved into the Dunwoody neighborhood.The make up was from people living in homes associated with the school the kids. Do not seem to have this same feeling.

  10. I have watched this Jester school board (now commissioner and school board) saga for years and years and the thing that I can’t get past is — if people are so disgruntled, why do they not run and support another representative? Surely there are plenty of options in District 1 of the school board. Plenty! Why so disengaged? Perhaps the job doesn’t pay enough?

  11. Sounds like a pissing contest to me. As a former parent of two kids at PCMS, I am glad to be done with all of the problems and controversys associated with that school. I have respect for people that volunteer their time and effort toward any charity or public organization. However, I also have first hand experience in dealing with these organizations and know that many of them are not without their own agenda. Many of these organizations are run by the so called “Dunwoody Moms”. A term that anyone living within the Dunwoody community for a significant amount of time with, with school aged children, will be all too familiar with. Unfortunately, they are more like the housewives of Atlanta. They create these “organizations” to force their viewpoints and “the way things should be done” on to the faculty and students of these Dunwoody schools using coercive tactics.

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