DeKalb County Public Schools Placed on Probation By SACs – Could Lose Accreditation

Probation by SACsProbation by SACs

DeKalb County parents and home owners received news of probation by SACs  (AdvanceEd subsidiary) placing the DeKalb County School system in limbo.

. The general mood among parents was that we have just been waiting for the other shoe to fall on a system full of “conflict and crisis”.  Parents at Northlake and Tucker school clusters were still reeling from news last week that Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson was looking at a dramatic re-districting plan that would have been voted on within 30 days of initial proposal to the public.  “Learning DeKalb County Schools have been placed on “probation” by the accrediting agency is no surprise to many of us.”

Dr Mark Elgart, President and CEO of AdvanceED met with members of the DeKalb County Board of Education, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and the DeKalb County “Senior team”.  A tweet by the DeKalb County School System says “During this meeting, Dr. Elgart reviewed the Special Review Team Report from the October 17-19, 2012 visit. As a result, the District is now being placed on Accredited-Probation until December 31, 2013. The District has received this information and will work collaboratively to review the findings and begin to address the required actions. The District still remains fully accredited and students’ academic status remains unchanged.”

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution is reporting “An accrediting agency is accusing the DeKalb County School District of a decade of “poor, ineffective governance,” announcing Monday that it’s placing the district on probation, leading to possible removal of the school board.After a six-month investigation, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools found evidence of missing money, school board nepotism and board member influence on which schools students, particularly athletes, attend.

Despite exerting influence in areas where they had no formal role, members of the school board failed to oversee their primary responsibility: the money. DeKalb is “perilously close” to running out of cash, said Mark Elgart, the president and chief executive officer of SACS parent company AdvancED. Despite annual revenues approaching $1 billion, some students don’t have textbooks and most have no access to computers or the Internet.

This is because the school board, administrators and others in decision-making positions put the interests of adults Probation by sacsbefore those of children, he said. Meanwhile, academic performance has been sliding.”

Dr.Elgart is saying that teams will be sent to monitor the response of the Board and School management and that accreditation is on probation during that period. He further stated that loss of accreditation is possible anytime within the one year period.

DeKalb County school board chairman Eugene Walker made a statement that sounds to me as if he is not taking the charges seriously: “I’m disappointed that they’re going to put us on probation. Nobody wants to be on probation, we’ve not done anything egregious.”

SACs Required Actions – Dec. 31, 2013 deadline:

  • Devise and implement a written, comprehensive plan for unifying the DeKalb County Board of Education so that the focus can become serving the needs of the children of the DeKalb County School District.

  • Ensure that all actions and decisions of the DeKalb County Board of Education are reflective of the collective Board and consistent with approved policies and procedures and all applicable laws, regulations and standards, rather than individual board members acting independently and undermining the authority of the Superintendent to lead and manage day-to-day operations.

  • Establish and implement policies and procedures that ensure segregation of duties of the governing board and that of the administration including the elimination of Board working committees that result in board members assuming administrative functions that should be the responsibility of appropriate staff.

  • Implement and adhere to fiscally responsible policies and practices that ensure the DeKalb County Board of Education will adopt and ensure proper implementation of budgets within the financial means of the school system and that support the delivery of an educational program that meets the needs of the students.

Dr. Elgart’s indicting statement:  “This failure to govern effectively has resulted in a decline in student performance, financial mismanagement, and lack of integrity and ethics in recruiting, appointing and evaluating personnel at all levels of the school system.”

It is time for the DeKalb County School Board to set aside differences and act in the best interests of DeKalb County Students.  Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and the highly bureaucratic management at DeKalb County Public Schools will have to act decisively and in a dramatically different manner than their past actions or they will find themselves looking for a new employer.