In a letter today, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools informed DeKalb Schools that it intends to pay a site visit Oct. 17 -19 to address its ongoing concerns over governance and leadership and resource and support systems.
Addressed to Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson and signed by AdvancED president Mark Elgart, the letter states that while the school chief has outlined reforms under way in DeKalb, SACS remains concerned that the system’s problems “could have a significant, negative impact on the capacity of the system to realize the many improvements that are the focus of these initiatives. Consequently, AdvancED has determined that an on-site investigation is warranted and necessary to evaluate the adherence of the DeKalb County School District to to the Accreditation standards and/or practices.”
That review team will then recommend whether DeKalb’s accreditation status should be “continued accreditation, advised, warned, probation or dropped.”
The Elgart letter comes today in response to Atkinson’s contention that DeKalb is moving ahead on many of the agency’s concerns. The school system is “on advisement, ” a step below full accreditation.
In a letter sent to DeKalb on Aug. 28, SACS said it had received dozens of complaints from a broad spectrum of people in the county — parents, public officials and school staffers — who alleged everything from mishandling of the budget to undue board influence in hiring.
It was that letter that prompted a response from Atkinson on how the system was moving forward.
As the AJC reported:
Atkinson outlined 16 initiatives she’s taken since becoming superintendent less than a year ago to address budgetary, staffing and other issues that predate her tenure on the job. Fixes that are either under way or complete, she wrote, include: a still in-the-works forensic audit of the district’s financial records by the outside accounting firm KPMG; restructuring the central office; delivering a new curriculum in line with new common core standards, and establishing an internal legal affairs division to manage and reduce legal costs.
“We are working daily to make huge strides to sustain continuous improvement and to provide the best education possible for the students of DeKalb County, ” Atkinson wrote. “Progress is ongoing and we have not stopped working on any concerns. Some issues may take longer than others to resolve, but we are continuously striving to achieve excellence on all SACS standards.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog