As DeKalb County school officials work to fully restore the system’s accreditation, the  school board has endorsed a plan to allow DeKalb high schools to seek accreditation individually from a state accrediting agency.

The board voted 7-2 July 1 to have the county’s high schools seek accreditation individually from the Georgia Accrediting Commission, an Athens-based group that accredits high schools in Georgia, according to District 2 board member Marshall D. Orson and Dunwoody City Councilman Terry Nall, who attended the board meeting.

The “dual accreditation” plan had been backed by parents in Dunwoody and elsewhere in DeKalb who saw it as a way to get a “back-up” accreditation for Dunwoody High and other high schools should the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a regional agency known as SACS, revoke the system’s accreditation. SACS has placed the system’s accreditation on probation.

“It’s a safety net,” Nall said. “It means if SACS accreditation is pulled for any reason, the school will still be accredited. … It means graduating students can say on college applications and applications for scholarships they graduated from an accredited high school.”

But Orson said he didn’t believe that the DeKalb system would lose its accreditation from SACS, so the state accreditation wasn’t intended by the board as a back-up. Instead, he said, the board thought it would be worthwhile to have a second agency take a look at school operations.

“I think the consensus is that it wasn’t a bad idea to have multiple agencies looking at what we’re doing in our system,” Orson said. “I am quite confident we will restore accreditation with SACS, but in this new era of accountability … the more scrutinizing us, the better. I think we’ll withstand that scrutiny.”

The board agreed to delay the start of the state accrediting process until 2014, so it would not interrupt the SACS process, Orson and Nall said.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.