SACS keeps beleaguered DeKalb school system in limbo

DeKalb County has work yet to do to stabilize its scandal-plagued school system, according to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The accreditation agency said today that it planned to keep the metro school district on “advisement” status, which is a sort of limbo. Once a state standout, DeKalb has been recovering from a series of blows, including the indictment of its former superintendent and chief operating officer.

(You can read the original eight reasons here why SACS censured the district.)

According to the AJC:

DeKalb County Schools has made progress in the last eight months, but not enough to put its accreditation back in good standing, the state’s top accrediting agency ruled Tuesday.

“With continued work and a focus on sustaining the efforts made to date, the school system will continue to repair its reputation and restore trust with its stakeholders,” said Mark Elgart, president and CEO, AdvancED, the parent company of SACS.

SACS’ options were to revoke the district’s accreditation, put the district on probation, which is more severe than advisement, place the district on “warning” or remove all sanctions and place it in good standing. SACS reviews district accreditation every five years, but can take action anytime during the cycle.

Earlier this month, Atlanta Public Schools was removed from probation status and placed on advisement. Cobb County Schools is also on advisement following a 2009 review.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

29 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

November 29th, 2011
7:26 pm

Glad the bad behavior of board members was not overlooked:

Additionally, the Monitoring Team noted the DCSS Board of Education is currently engaged in training to strengthen and improve board communication processes as well as board and staff relations. Stakeholder interviews revealed a consistent concern regarding the actions of board members that have been counterproductive to the wellness of the school system. To ensure public trust and faith, the Board of Education must conduct business in such a manner whereby differences of opinion are recognized and respected. However, upon consensus of all
decisions, the Board should progress forward as a cohesive and unified team to affect positive change on behalf of all students in the school system.

catlady

November 29th, 2011
7:26 pm

What did they think was substantially better?

Fred

November 29th, 2011
7:38 pm

My wife wants to be on SACS…….

Attentive Parent

November 29th, 2011
8:39 pm

So I am doing a survey and would appreciate input.

Which other schools have the AdvancEd decal on the front doors in addition or in lieu of the SACS decal?

I’m trying to see if it is prevalent, only in certain areas, or only certain principals who want to show their commitment to being moved up to the next echelon in lucrative employment?

Private School Guy

November 29th, 2011
9:33 pm

SACS accredits private schools as well as public schools. From my experience in each it seems like public schools are held to a different standard than private. Not for the quality of education but for the ways and methods they are run. Since schools do not have to have boards ( some school are privately held) it seems that the two types of schools are held to a different standard. Perhaps SACS should stick with simply reviewing the quality of education of a school or system and should leave the politics of public schools up to public agencies.

say what?

November 29th, 2011
10:25 pm

Dr. Elgert could not get his base riled if he left politics out of the equation. He speaks about giving DCSS anything but full accreditation, and the blogsopher goes all nutty regarding how to get rid of this person, move this program, fire this group, etc. Then people get more nasty and jump on people’s family members, name calling, finger pointing. finally we get more bad coverage because everyone know that the AJC is a valued valid media source, and it would filter non-sense on its blogs.
Dr.Trotter has been correct that this is nothing more than a shell game of sorts. As long as DCSS wants to get out of the news, dangling the accreditation carrot will have the board and employees going to drastic measures and hard hitting chest thumping that leaves nothing more than black and blue bruises.

Dr. John Trotter

November 30th, 2011
12:06 am

@ say what: Not just a “shell game,” but also a money-grabbing private enterprise not accountable to a single voter in Georgia…but a place where little dictator Mark Elgart makes a great salary (with benefits…tilting toward one-half a million a year or more). From whence comes Elgart’s money? The taxpayers. Yes, the school systems are threatened by SACES and shaken down for money…right into Mark Elgart’s pockets. Hmm.

Dr. John Trotter

November 30th, 2011
12:14 am

That would be SACS, not SACES. Sorry. But, come to think of it…”SACES” may be a more appropriate acronym for Mark Elgart’s organization. Yes, “Scaring All Competent Educators Senselessly (SACES).”

Beverly Fraud

November 30th, 2011
12:22 am

“Once a state standout…”

If you want to know just how INFINITESIMALLY SMALL the correlation is between SACS and quality education, the fact that DCSS was “once a state standout” says it all.

Private enterprise, WHOLLY UNACCOUNTABLE to voters, making money off of PUBLIC dollars.

Beverly Fraud

November 30th, 2011
12:25 am

“To ensure public trust and faith, the Board of Education must conduct business in such a manner whereby differences of opinion are recognized and respected.”

Yet when APS board members FINALLY got a conscience and expressed a difference of opinion in a that a judge ruled PERFECTLY LEGAL, SASC yanked (well to the Step Up and Cover Up crowded it was yanked, because they are WHOLLY IGNORANT of the fact it would NEVER be yanked) the accreditation of APS by making references to anyone who would WRONGFULLY claim the board’s actions were illegal.

Why do TAXPAYERS tolerate this?

Dr. John Trotter

November 30th, 2011
12:26 am

@ Beverly Fraud: You always say it so well. I love reading your posts. Very insightful, funny, and ironic. Keep up the posting, please.

And 1

November 30th, 2011
1:29 am

Did Dr. Atkinson really fire the head of the Office of School Improvement, who was prominent in the C Lew indictment? If so, THANK YOU Dr. A!!! It is time to completely dismantle that underperforming, purely political department and put the money spent on that staff back into the classroom! And please more millions spent on gimmicks like America’s Choice.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

November 30th, 2011
2:46 am

Jim Cherry must be spinning in his grave.

Attentive Parent

November 30th, 2011
6:39 am

It seems that whenever taxpayers hire new Board members and the majority bloc becomes an issue, as happened in Dekalb and Cobb, Elgart threatens accreditation unless the new members submit to the vision of the Board members and admins who have sworn obeisance to the SACS/Knowledgeworks “education exists so those property taxes and SPLOST can be confiscated to benefit our cronies” business template.

I have seen the SACS accreditation standards and especially the new ones and the schools and districts have to promise to enforce a nonacademic vision to get SACS’ sticker.

I am also convinced Elgart is the guiding force behind Fulton’s charter application and who is being brought in to be admins and vendors. Red flags everywhere but no one is warning the Board apparently of the significance of certain terms or the obligations of submission the Board and Governing Councils will have to the vision of the Super and Principals.

And the Super and the Principals have been credentialled in return for agreeing to promote social justice as their guiding principle in their decisions. Which is inconsistent with that charter being a bulwark to protect academic excellence where it still exists in Fulton. Instead it is actually a license to gut it.

Dunwoody Mom

November 30th, 2011
6:45 am

@Beverly Fraud – when I was a student in DCSS it WAS one of the top school systems in the state.

yes i am worried

November 30th, 2011
6:51 am

Attentive Parent,

I can’t speak to Cobb or any other system, but the DCSS board is a holy mess. They meddle incessantly, botched the superintendent search in an unbelievably public manner, many of them have family members in highly compensated positions, etc

And academic achievement is at an all time low.

This school board is horrible.

Other states have the power to step in to local systems when things get this bad. GA does not and this is problematic.

Dunwoody Mom

November 30th, 2011
7:04 am

The school board is one of the primary reasons DCSS is in such bad shape. They fact that they failed to supervise Crawford Lewis properly and ask the “tough questions” about his expenditures and plans allowed the criminal activity by Lewis and Pope/Reid to go unabated for years. For this alone, they should be removed from the board.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

November 30th, 2011
7:39 am

Let me revise the headline.

“Beleaguered DeKalb school system keeps itself in limbo with SACS.”

Attentive Parent

November 30th, 2011
8:41 am

But it has been a holy mess as you call it for a long time and that did not previously create accreditation issues.

Allegations of cheating did not create accreditation issues with APS.

Plus there’s only an obligation for the Board to reach a consensus when what’s at issue is SACS’ vision. SACS had no problem with that school board member in Cobb who is now the Chair being constantly harassed when she was in the minority. The majority bloc shifted and suddenly Cobb must obtain a consensus among member views or its accreditation is at issue.

People assume that an accredited school, district, or college has met certain standards of academic excellence or at least minimum competency. In fact it simply means a willingness to adopt certain policies dictated by AdvancED. Those policies though actually interfere with the schools’ primary purpose- teaching the children. Instead the primary purpose becomes enriching affiliated adults and their designated cronies. It would be grand larceny except the legislatures give permission for the looting. It is important for taxpayers, parents, small business, and interested politicians to at least recognize what is really going on in the name of “accreditation”.

Anonmom

November 30th, 2011
9:50 am

I wonder how it is that DCSS pays upwards of $75,000 a year for accreditation to SACS, SACS “regulates” — SACS “consults” with DCSS on how to comply with SACS on passing on maintaining said accreditation (perhaps paying ever more per year — we don’t really know because there’s no on-line register) so ultimately DCSS can continue to pay $75k + per year? and then academic achievement doesn’t even factor into the mix? I don’t really ‘get it’ — as a parent I had (once upon a time…long, long ago) assumed that it was really all about academics. I now understand that academics is irrelevant.

Attentive Parent

November 30th, 2011
10:26 am

Anonmom-

Plus the costs of the district employees who monitor each school to ensure AdvancEd policies or policies that benefit Knowlegeworks’ aggregate of revenue generating models are being complied with.

Early College benefits operators of community colleges so you have Ga Perimeter’s Pres on your Board. What you learn does not matter as long as each student is moved along continuing to generate the maximum revenue stream for the connected ed entities and their employees.

Lucrative to the connected but toxic to a society and any hope of overall economic prosperity.

Dr. John Trotter

November 30th, 2011
10:44 am

SACS is about politics, control, and money…and not necessarily in that order.

@ Attentive Parent

November 30th, 2011
11:02 am

Well said.

Wish the legislators would grow a backbone and say H&LL NO to Elgart and crew. I’m a Cobb County Parent. We worked dang hard to ditch the garbage (aka Cash, Crooks, and Abraham) from the School Board so that we would be better represented. We now have some members on the board that ask questions and don’t always agree with each other. Thought that was what democracy was all about… but then come to find out, it’s not about democracy, it’s about following Elgart’s lead. You’re right in that SACS is perfectly fine watching other board members disrespect our new Chair b/c she happens to disagree with the status quo. Personally, I think they’re not sitting back, but orchestrating a lot of this upheaval.

And it even goes beyond the board… Case in point, I wanted my son to take a supplemental class to fill in the gaps from this crappy math curriculum and the school system told me “No.” You know why? Because the college I selected to provide the online course was accredited by someone else, NOT AdvancED. What BS!

Whatup

November 30th, 2011
11:38 am

Nice to hear the administrator who accompanied the married Crawford Lewis on a fancy vacation during the school year, paid for with a DCSS purchasing card even though the CFO told Lewis not to, was finally let go.

The DCSS Board of Education, chaired by the feckless Tom Bowen, allowed and enabled the Lewis-Pope-Tyson-Moseley Central Office to morph into a massive monster of waste, nepostism, fraud, cronyism and bloat.

Even if the new superintendent performs at a very high level, the school system will continue to underperform without a more competent board and a leaner, efficient, nimble Central Office.

Anonmom

November 30th, 2011
11:49 am

So why doesn’t the AJC or others inquire into the “croynism” of the accredidation process that doesn’t really look after the kids and the funds that the “general public” assumes is really going on?

catlady

November 30th, 2011
12:23 pm

Ms. Downey has promised us some hard hitting investigative reporting coming soon. I hope it begins with a complete expose of SACS–costs, benefits, profits, legislative mandate (or not), checks and balances (hahaha), operating procedure (don’t you dare have your board makes a split vote!), fear tactics. Perhaps contrast the political activism with the state accreditation procedure. Perhaps the Tea Party could get involved in saving millions of dollars by educating the legislators about this “enterprise.” There was a time when SACS did important work. Does it now do anything that benefits the children?

Anonmom

November 30th, 2011
8:48 pm

Great ideas Catlady — I had a lapse there about that earlier mention about the stories they’re working on…. Thanks!

William

December 2nd, 2011
5:42 pm

Still thinking long and hard about my comment, huh Maureen? It must be difficult for you when someone actually names the jew. I mean, you freely let so many people make comments about blacks and hispanics, but god forbid someone criticizes a jew by name. Paging Rick Sanchez…..

Driving Miss Daisy

December 4th, 2011
12:19 am

Thanks Catlady….Ms. Downey, I look forward to your report.