The Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education voted on Monday, Jan. 24, to accept a report by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which found six issues with the board’s governance and leadership and prompted the organization to put the district on accreditation probation.

The school board has until Sept. 30 to address the six issues to the satisfaction SACS to avoid having the system lose its accreditation. .

Prior to the board vote, there was a public meeting at which concerned parents addressed the board about the report. Many parents urged the board to follow the SACS guidelines. Many of them blame the board for the issues. Other speakers questioned the legitimacy of the SACS report.

Also, before the board vote, Mark Elgart, the president and CEO of AdvancED, the parent organization of SACS, met with board members to further explain the SACS report that led to the accreditation probation by the agency.

Elgart announced the APS probation action following an investigation into the board’s leadership conflicts and infighting among its members. AdvancED, the parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, gave the APS board six objectives to meet by Sept. 30 to retain accreditation for the city’s high schools, including North Atlanta High in Buckhead.

Meanwhile, a team from SACS visited DeKalb County schools on Jan. 24 to begin a three-day evaluation of that system to determine whether the state’s third-largest district meets national accreditation standards.

The problems of the Atlanta and DeKalb systems are similar to those that caused SACS to pull the accreditation of the Clayton County school system in 2008, making it the first system in the nation to lose accreditation in nearly 40 years. Like the Clayton situation, it is the Atlanta and DeKalb school boards—not teaching and learning—that have drawn the attention of SACS.

According to Elgart, it has been only in the past decade that AdvancED began accrediting whole school districts and reviewing the work of school boards as well as academic performance of the schools.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.