The system has until Sept. 30 to meet several of SACS' recommendations to reform the school system, which has seen its reputation tarnished by a cheating scandal and bitter public feud between two factions of board members. Only the system's high schools, which are accredited by SACS, are impacted by the decision.
According to Board Member Courtney English, Atlanta Public Schools received SACS' report at 9 a.m. Board members are expected to hold an emergency meeting at noon.
Now on probation, it appears APS will face the same trials and tribulations as neighboring Clayton County. The beleaguered county's school system lost its accreditation in 2008 after failing to address several issues, including a dysfunctional school board. It regained accreditation one year later, but remains on probation with SACS.
While being placed on probation is different from actually losing accreditation, it can often be just as damaging to the students and communities. Some colleges might refuse to recognize high school students' diplomas. Teachers could look for greener pastures. Parents could pull students from the system. Property values could dip. And businesses could take a long, hard look at whether they really want to relocate or set up shop in the city.
UPDATE, 11:56 p.m.: Buckhead Patch provides SACS' list of actions to avoid losing accreditation:
* Develop and implement a long-term plan to communication with and engage stakeholders in the work of the district and to regain the trust of parents and students.
* Secure and actively use the services of a trained, impartial mediator who will work with board members to resolve communication, operational and personal issues that are impeding the effectiveness of the governing body.
* Ensure that the actions and behavior of all board members are aligned with board policies, especially those related to ethics and chain of command.
* Review and refine policies to achieve the mission to educate students.
* Develop and implement a process for selecting a new superintendent that is transparent and engages public participation. The final choice of superintendent should be determined by more than a simple majority of the board.
* Work with the state of Georgia to address inconsistencies between the state charter for the school board and system policies.
UPDATE, 12:13 p.m.: Mark Elgart, chairman of AdvancED, SACS' parent company, says in a statement:
“The Atlanta Public School System’s Board of Education was recognized as one of the best school boards in the nation just over a year ago. The board has an opportunity to recapture what made it one of the most effective and dynamic school boards in Georgia, but only if the board addresses its current issues with dedication and commitment to it’s overall success... If not addressed, these challenges could seriously detract from the district’s educational program and limit the district’s ability to fulfill its mission."
The statement goes on to read:
As also outlined in the report, the lack of effective governance and leadership on the part of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education in recent months is having significant negative impact on the stakeholders including the city of Atlanta. According to the Special Review Team report, without a shared vision and the ability to professionally make decisions about what is in the best interest of the students of Atlanta Public Schools, the system is paralyzed to move forward.
Download a copy of SACS report here.
UPDATE, 2:22 p.m.: Hoping the state will come to the rescue and oust board members? Don't hold your breath. Georgia Public Broadcasting's Melissa Stiers says a law passed allowing the state to step in and discipline dysfunctional school boards might not apply to APS officials. See why here.
UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: APS Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El tells the AJC the board would "pull out all the stops" to address SACS' recommendations. And Gov. Nathan Deal has called for Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta legislative delegation to meet tomorrow to discuss the system's probation. "I will make every effort to ensure that Atlanta’s children are not harmed by the adults who have failed them,” Deal said in a statement, adding that he's asked the officials leading the state's investigation of the cheating scandal to continue their work.
NOTE: This post will be updated as new information becomes available.
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