DeKalb County residents brace yourselves, you very likely will be the next victims of the muscle flexing of AdvancED and the threat of losing a school system’s accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Clayton County schools were the first to feel the wrath of SACS and AdvancED when they lost their accreditation in 2008, the nation’s first school system in almost 40 years to lose accreditation. Clayton managed to fight back and got to probation, but not until some 3,500 students abandoned the county’s schools and the system lost millions of dollars in funding.

Just days ago, the Atlanta Public Schools system was put on probation by SACS with the possibility of losing accreditation in September if the Board of Education does not correct six deficiencies cited by SACS.

On Jan. 24, a SACS team of investigators began a three-day review, evaluating DeKalb’s schools.

Just as in the case of the Atlanta Public Schools and the Clayton County school systems before it, the review is more focused on the actions of the school boards than on the academic performance and achievements of the schools within the systems.

Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED has said that his agency and SACS have not even evaluated entire school systems or the school boards until this past decade. But the playing field apparently has changed. And, the metro Atlanta area systems seem to be target of the new emphasis of the accreditation agency and its parent.

DeKalb officials insist the accreditation agency will not see the same problems they found in Atlanta and Clayton County.

That could be true, but not necessarily so. We think AdvancED and SACS have seen tremendous growth in the schools and systems they represent and monitor and are out to flex their muscles and show how important — or is that impotent? — they are in the world of education.

My guess: The DeKalb school system is in for the same type of treatment Atlanta Public Schools got. They will be put on accreditation probation pending fixing X number of factors by Y date.

I believe it is simply a power play and the losers could be the school systems, parents and students.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.