Jason F. Esteves

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Jason Esteves
Jason Esteves.jpg
Board Member, Atlanta Public Schools District, At-large seat 9
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 5, 2013
First electedNovember 5, 2013
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sThe University of Miami
Campaign website
Jason Esteves campaign logo
Jason Esteves holds the at-large seat 9 on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. He beat Lori James in a runoff election on December 3, 2013.


Esteves is a native Georgian. After graduating from the University of Miami, he devoted himself to teaching at an underperforming school in a low-income neighborhood. Esteves is currently a practicing attorney at the Atlanta law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP. He has been an active member on the boards of KIPP South Fulton Academy, Georgia Appleseed's Young Professionals Council and Georgia Hispanic Bar Association. Esteves is married to wife, Ariel.[1]



See also: Atlanta Public Schools elections (2013)


Esteves ran for the at-large seat 9 against Lori James, Ed Johnson, Sean Norman and Eddie Lee Brewster on November 5, 2013. He faced Lori James in a runoff election on December 3, 2013.


Runoff election
Atlanta Public Schools, District 9 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJason Esteves 52.9% 9,890
     Nonpartisan Lori James 47.1% 8,818
Total Votes 18,708
Source: Fulton County Board of Election, "Election Results," accessed January 29, 2014
General election
Atlanta Public Schools, At-large seat 9 General Election, 4-year term, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJason Esteves 34.5% 11,588
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngLori James 31% 10,421
     Nonpartisan Sean Norman 13% 4,361
     Nonpartisan Ed Johnson 11.4% 3,848
     Nonpartisan Eddie Lee Brewster 9.6% 3,230
     Nonpartisan Write-in 0.5% 180
Total Votes 33,628
Source: Fulton County Board of Election, "Election Results," accessed January 29, 2014


Esteves reported $70,990.24 in contributions and $54,610.86 in expenditures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, which left his campaign with $16,379.38 on hand.[2]


Esteves received an endorsement from BuckheadView.[3]

Campaign themes

Esteves identified the following campaign themes for 2013:[4]

Hiring a transformative superintendent

Jason will work with his colleagues on the Board of Education to hire a superintendent that will transform the future of the school district. We are at a pivotal moment, and a visionary superintendent is needed to ensure our district fulfills its mandate to our children. Jason believes that the superintendent must be inspirational and compassionate, a cultivator and effective manager of talented leadership, and have a profound belief that every child in APS can succeed with the right opportunities. He knows that this is our moment to select that leader, and will not let the opportunity go to waste.

Ensuring APS's budget is focused on children

Jason will scrutinize APS's budget to ensure the district is directing its resources to what matters most -- our children. For far too long, valuable resources have been directed away from the classroom. Jason will work with his colleagues on the Board of Education and the administration to redirect resources to the classroom. With effective leaders at the helm of each public school, Jason believes that budgets should be catered to students' needs at the school-level. He will also work to ensure APS's central office is effective and efficient in providing support to schools.

Holding APS responsible

Jason will hold the administration and APS's stakeholders accountable. Jason believes that every stakeholder, including administrators, board members, teachers, and parents, must be held accountable for the success of Atlanta’s students. Having tackled tough problems in both the private and public sector, Jason is well-equipped to tackle tough issues to ensure our children are getting the support they deserve. He will fight against corruption and for results.

Advocating for our children

Jason will fight to ensure every child has access to an excellent public school. Jason knows that we need advocates on the APS Board of Education that refuse to play politics with our childrens' future. Jason believes education is the biggest determining factor of a child's future success and that every neighborhood should have access to an excellent public school. Jason will be a tireless advocate for APS's students and work to ensure they have the resources they need to succeed. Jason will also advocate to ensure teachers are rewarded for their hard work on behalf of our children.

Bringing stakeholders together

Jason will work to bring you to the table to help improve APS. As a business attorney and former public school teacher, Jason understands the necessity of active and engaged leadership at every level, from pre-K school classrooms to the APS Board of Education. As an active member of the community, Jason has the know-how to bring key stakeholders together to craft meaningful solutions to unsafe and low-performing schools.

Getting real results

Jason will be a staunch advocate for effective education policies help our children succeed and do not overburden teachers. With experience as a practicing attorney, board member of several non-profits, and a former public school teacher, Jason knows how to get real results for the students of Atlanta. Our students do not need more talk -- they need action.

Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.

What was at stake?

All nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education were at stake in the 2013 election. Brenda J. Muhammad, Byron D. Amos, Nancy M. Meister, Courtney D. English and Reuben McDaniel were the only incumbents seeking re-election, meaning that the election resulted in significant turnover in board members. Some suspect the large turnover was a result of a number of district issues, but most predominantly the criminal indictment of 34 district teachers and former superintendent Beverly Hall. Board members LaChandra Butler Burks, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, and Emmett Johnson were some of Hall's biggest supporters, which may have been a factor in their decision not to seek re-election.[5]


CRCT testing scandal

In March 2013 a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 Atlanta educators, including former superintendent Beverly Hall, in a cheating conspiracy the stretched across 58 schools. Each defendant was charged with Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) conspiracy. The 65-count indictment also included charges of False Statements and Writings, False Swearing, and Influencing Witnesses in connection with the alleged conspiracy to alter Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) scores. Former superintendent Hall also faced theft charges because her salary rose with rising student test scores on standardized tests. Hall retired in 2011, just days before the allegations surfaced. The indictments came after a two-year investigation that looked at test scores dating back to 2005. Cheating allegations first surfaced in 2008, when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported "statistically improbable increases" in scores on the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) at one Atlanta school. In 2009, the newspaper found similar increases at a dozen schools. The stories eventually led then-governor Sonny Perdue to appoint two special investigators who found cheating in 44 in 2011. In all, they found that 178 educators had cheated on CRCT tests.[6][7]No school board members faced implications due to these allegations. During their first few months in office, the new school board members will have to select a new superintendent.


Another challenge the new board will face is the development of next year's budget. The new board will likely want a significant reallocation of resources away from administration and into the classroom. There is also a strong call for reducing deficit spending, ending teacher furloughs and granting teachers a pay raise. These cost reductions and reallocations amount to $40-50 million out of an operating budget of approximately $590 million. It is likely that the cost reductions in the administrative and operating functions will be difficult to achieve without reducing the cost inefficiencies created by a number of small schools that were slated for closure, yet still remain open.[8] The new board will also have to address how to pay off an old pension liability that costs about $550 million. Atlanta Public Schools initially intended to withhold start up funding from charter schools in order to repay the debt, but in September 2013 the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the city’s school system can’t make charters share in the burden of paying off the pension debt. The court decided that the amount of money charter schools receive is set by state law. The debt had been accumulating since the late 1970s, and charter schools don’t participate in Atlanta Public Schools’ pension system. The district released $415,000 to Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School after the money had been withheld last school year. The board is left to decide how to pay of the pension debt.[9]

Diploma misrepresentation

In August of 2013, Atlanta Progressive News reported that District 5 candidate Steven Lee had misleading educational credentials in documents prepared for the City of Atlanta. Three resolutions passed by the City Council of Atlanta, appointing him to three different boards in 2009, refer to him as Dr. Lee. Supporting documents, including Lee’s resume, also referred to him as Dr. Lee. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, councilmembers Felicia Moore, CT Martin, Joyce Sheperd, and Lamar Willis and former councilman Jim Maddox each signed letters of recommendation referring to Lee as Dr. Lee. When first asked about the references to him as Dr. Lee in the City legislation, Lee told Atlanta Progressive News that his PhD was from Belford University. Belford University was a diploma mill that closed in 2012. It offered online, non-accredited college degrees to individuals for their previous life experiences for several hundred dollars. While it had a post office box in Humble, Texas, the degrees were mailed from the United Arab Emirates. Lee’s campaign materials did not mention that he previously referred to himself as Dr. Lee.[10]

Ethical questions regarding Shawnna Hayes-Tavares

In the summer of 2013, Atlanta Progressive News reported that Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, a candidate for Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education District 6, had an arrest record and was the subject of several investigations and actions involving JC Young Middle School. Hayes-Tavares was arrested on August 08, 2011, by DeKalb County Police, on three charges, including giving a false name and false information to the police, driving while license suspended or revoked and maximum limits.[11] Additionally, The Grady High School student newspaper and Atlanta Progressive News reported that the Young Middle School Local School Council claimed that Hayes-Tavares never reimbursed Young Middle School parents a total of $970 the parents had given her for uniforms during a summer camp. According to the March 18 Young Middle School LSC minutes, Hayes-Tavares collected $970 in full or partial uniform payments from the parents. Hayes-Tavares, however, claims that only four of the 15 girls at the camp paid for uniforms, which would equal $600 if those girls paid in full. After the majorette team was annexed by the After School All-Stars—a program with grant-provided funding for after-school activities—uniforms were no longer needed and Hayes-Tavares said she did not purchase them. Parents asked for a refund, according to the minutes from the meeting. Although Kelvin Griffin, the Young Middle School principal, asked Hayes-Tavares to return the $970, she had yet to refund the parents by the meeting on March 18, according to the LSC minutes. Griffin and Young Middle School decided to make the parents financially whole and reimbursed them. In an interview with The Southerner, Hayes-Tavares said she doesn’t know why Young Middle School is under the impression the parents were not refunded, but did not respond to an email asking her to clarify who refunded the parents.[12]

This is not the first allegation of financial misconduct made against Hayes-Tavares. When she was president of the Young Middle School PTSA, the Georgia PTA began to investigate the association’s finances and it was requested by a Georgia PTA official that no previous or current member of the Young Middle School PTSA should hold a position in any PTA/PTSA until the matter has been completely resolved. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Hayes-Tavares claimed there was a Georgia PTA letter which cleared her to serve again. Shortly after this claim was made, Hayes-Tavares collected gift certificates to be given to teachers for Christmas, but the gifts never made it to the teachers. Hayes-Tavares claimed the money was stolen from a school desk. After this incident, the LSC decided to look closer into Hayes-Tavares’ alleged PTA exoneration. In June of 2012, a Georgia PTA official claimed that the Georgia PTA was not aware of a letter exonerating Hayes-Tavares. On July 29, 2013, Hayes-Tavares also wrote an email to William Scott, director of the Office of Internal Compliance for APS, in which she claimed that since the audit was completed, the members of the 2006/2007 PTSA should be allowed to serve again.[12]

After Atlanta Progressive News editor Matthew Cardinale posted a story about the accusations against Hayes-Tavares, three comments were posted to the online story within 50 minutes defending Hayes-Tavares. One of the comments was signed “YoungMS Teacher”, another “T. Madhi” and the third was signed “Terry”, a resident of District 6. Cardinale saw that all three of the comments had the same IP address, meaning that they all came from the same computer. He then discovered that the IP addressed belonged to Hayes-Tavares’ computer because the candidate had previously commented on an Atlanta Progressive News article containing an interview with her on July 08, 2013. In a text message, Hayes-Tavares claimed that there were three campaign volunteers at her house posting the comments unbeknownst to her, and that she was not home.[13]

About the district

See also: Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia
Atlanta Public Schools is located in Fulton County and DeKalb County

Atlanta Public Schools is located in parts of Fulton County and DeKalb County, Georgia. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County. Atlanta is home to 443,775 residents.[14]


Atlanta underperforms the state in median household income and poverty rate, but outperforms the state in higher education. According to the 2010 Census, the median household income in Atlanta is $45,946 compared to Georgia's statewide median of $49,736. The rate of residents below the poverty level in Atlanta is 23.2% while the state rate is 16.5%. The percentage of residents over 25 with a bachelor's degree or higher in Atlanta is 46.1% compared to the state average of 27.5%.[14]

Racial Demographics, 2012[14]
Race Atlanta(%) Pennsylvania (%)
White 38.4 59.7
Black or African American 54.0 30.5
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.2 0.3
Asian 3.1 3.2
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Z 0.1
Two or More Races 2.0 2.1
Hispanic or Latino 5.2 8.8

Presidential Voting Pattern[15]
Year Democratic Vote (%) Republican Vote (%)
2012 34.4 64.1
2008 32.1 67.1
2004 39.9 59.3
2000 39.8 57.8

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See also

External links

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  1. Jason Esteves, "About Jason," accessed October 30, 2013
  2. Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, "Esteves, Jason," accessed December 26, 2013
  3. BuckheadView, "Commentary: BuckheadView’s city elections choices," accessed October 30, 2013
  4. Jason Esteves, "Issues," accessed October 30, 2013
  5. Scott Henry, Atlanta Magazine, "School board races begin heating up," June 7, 2013
  6. Larry Coplan, USA TODAY, "School cheating scandal shakes up Atlanta," April 14, 2013
  7. Office of the Fulton County District Attorney, "GRAND JURY INDICTS 35 IN CONNECTION WITH ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CHEATING SCANDAL," accessed October 23, 2013
  8. Maureen Downey The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ""Most important school board election in the history of Atlanta,"" October 20, 2013
  9. Mark Miesse, ajc.com, "Georgia Supreme Court rules in favor of charter schools in pension fight," September 23, 2013
  10. MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE Atlanta Progressive News, "APS Board Candidate, Steven Lee, Touted Diploma Mill PhD," accessed October 24, 2013
  11. Atlanta Progressive News, "APS Candidate, Hayes-Tavares, Has Arrest Record, PTA Ban, Pending Lawsuit," MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE August 22, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 The Southerner, "APS board candidate faces accusations," JOSH WEINSTOCK AND ARCHIE KINNANE, October 17, 2013
  13. Atlanta Progressive News, "Hayes-Tavares Caught in Apparent Fake Commenter Scheme" MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE August 24, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 2010 Census: Quick Facts, "Atlanta," accessed October 23, 2013"
  15. Fulton County Registration and Elections "Archived Election Results," accessed October 23, 2013