As the Atlanta Board of Education fights accreditation probation, some parents remain confident in Atlanta Public Schools.
School Board Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El stepped down May 23 amid pressure from Mayor Kasim Reed and other officials, according to published reports. On Jan. 18, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the Atlanta Board of Education on accreditation probation. The board is now meeting weekly and working to resolve its issues with SACS by the Sept. 30 deadline.
Reide Onley, co-president of the Sutton Middle School Parent Teacher Association, said while he understands the anxiety many parents are feeling, he is confident the school board will solve its problems.
“I think the probationary period they’re in right now is unfortunate, but something had to come to a head eventually,” Onley said. “When the board learns to facilitate or function as a responsible board we’ll be a better school system than we were before.”
Onley, parent of a rising ninth grader and rising seventh grader, said he has watched the board make progress in recent weeks.
“Maybe not as fast as some parents or some people or local municipal officials would like to see [things] happen, but there is still progress being made,” Onley said. “So in my mind I’m not really worried about that. I think it will take care of itself and it will be fine.”
Amid the school board’s turmoil, Martha Ray elected to send her daughter to North Atlanta High School rather than a private school.
She said while she was concerned about what she was hearing about the school board, she still was still interested in North Atlanta as an option for her daughter.
“You read the articles and you’re horrified, you’re scared to death, especially if you have a very smart child, you don’t want anything to interfere with their chances of going to a great school,” Ray said. “The accreditation issues, first of all, it was pure politics. I quickly decided that it had nothing to do with what was going on in the classroom.”
Ray said she did her research on several schools, but in the end was most impressed with North Atlanta’s teachers, students and International Baccalaureate program.
“Bottom line, we came to the conclusion that we’re going and we’re excited about it. I think if more families in Buckhead approached it objectively and did due diligence, I think they’d make the same decision we did,” Ray said.