Update–the lighter side of dark: AJC has been criticized for its coverage of this issue, since officials claim that formulating a response to SACS does not involve meeting as a body (hence, no violations of the Open Meetings Act). Anyway, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has responded to the accreditation agency’s letter (Don’t worry, be happy). More informative is Board Member Nancy Jester’s blog, which provides a model of organization on the issue.
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The accreditation agency that has already placed the DeKalb County School System on “advisement”—meaning the system is not fully accredited—has sent a letter to DeKalb officials asking for a response to scores of complaints of mismanagement, malfeasance, and wrongdoing. After opening a meeting to discuss the matter, the board closed its proceedings, putting itself in murky legal waters, since the the Open Meetings Act doesn’t specify an exception “to discuss our shortcomings.”
“The goal is to be as open and transparent as possible,” school board Chairman Eugene Walker was quoted as saying before he led the vote to shut out the public.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
The three-page letter, received Aug. 29 and addressed to Atkinson, gave the superintendent 30 calendar days to respond. It expressed “significant concern” about whether DeKalb was meeting “at least” two of five accreditation standards.
Elgart said last week that SACS had received at least 50 complaints from parents, school staffers and others about matters including board members pressuring principals to take certain actions and also exerting influence over personnel decisions. Board members are not supposed to get involved in such administrative decisions. Meanwhile, the board is accused of failing to approve accurate budgets, and of wasting money on expenses such as legal fees.
SACS already has the school system on “advisement,” a step below full accreditation, and has been pressuring officials for change since at least 2010.
Maureen Downey has a post up on this travesty on her Get Schooled blog.