The Oct. 17-19 visit comes in the wake of the district’s Sept. 12 response to charges “of stewardship failure on the part of the School Board and board interference in the district’s day-to-day operations.”
SACS parent company AdvancED notified School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson about the investigation in a Sept. 18 letter.
AdvancED’s president and CEO, Mark Elgart, said a Special Review Team of trained professionals will conduct the on-site investigation at no cost to the school district.
“The Special Review Team will evaluate the DeKalb County School District’s adherence to the Accreditation Standards and policies and make recommendations, if necessary, that will require immediate and corrective action,” Elgart wrote.
He said the team will recommend one of five status options – continued accreditation, advised, warned, probation or dropped.
“The purpose of the on-site investigation is to afford all parties the opportunity to provide information and evidence related to the stated concerns so that an informed decision can be made as to the validity and extent of alleged violations relating to the Standards of Accreditation,” Elgart said.
Board Chairman Eugene Walker said the district will welcome SACS even though he doesn’t think the probe is warranted.
“It will be a good thing,” Walker said Thursday. “If they find any mismanagement, then I would like to know about it because I don’t know of any mismanagement.”
Walker said if SACS finds any evidence, he will happily take actions to clear that up.
“SACS is trying to do their job to make sure we are upholding their standards, but I’m not aware of any standards being violated,” he said. “I want to know if rules are being violated.”
Atkinson’s Sept. 12 letter responded to AdvancED’s Aug. 27 letter that outlined the allegations. She offered 16 “systemic changes” made with the School Board’s approval since her arrival a year ago.
Elgart acknowledged the initiatives under way but said the concerns listed in his August letter could have a “significant, negative impact on capacity of the school system.”
He said the investigation will focus on two standards: governance and leadership and resources and support.
In March, SACS let the system keep its “accredited on advisement” status after its review team found some improvement.