A new, fast-growing parents group has been formed to pressure members of the Atlanta school board to work together to get the system off accreditation probation or to quit the board.

“Any board member who impedes the progress to secure our accreditation will be singled out and asked to step down,” members of Step Up or Step Down told the school board in a recent letter.

The organization, formed by parents with children in Atlanta Public Schools, wants to promote a resolution to the accreditation crisis.

“As our group came together….from the siren call of emergency, we have since met to realign our focus to work in concert with your interests to meet the six specific guidelines set forth by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and to expeditiously remove the stain of accreditation probation from the face of Atlanta Public Schools,” Julie Davis Salisbury, one of the organization’s founders, wrote in the letter to board members,

Salisbury, the north Buckhead resident who created the Step Up or Step Down Facebook page, has children in Sarah Smith Elementary School and Sutton Middle School. She has been a volunteer in Atlanta Public Schools and wants her children to go through the system from kindergarten through North Atlanta High.

“The speed with which the Step Up or Step Down group has come together should be a wake-up call to any board member who thinks their constituents are not paying attention,” Salisbury wrote. “Since our launch, we’ve gotten inquiries and statements of support from every category of stakeholder in virtually every neighborhood in Atlanta. “

She told board members that in the first 10 days of its operation, the Facebook site had 62,500 hits and the organization signed up 740 members.

The organization lists five goals: to maintain accreditation of APS high schools; to ensure good governance; to obtain concrete evidence of Atlanta School Board’s ongoing compliance with SACS’ required actions by the end of February 2011; to restore confidence in Atlanta’s public school system; and to energize Atlanta neighborhoods to advocate for the continuous improvement of public schools.

John Schaffner

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.