AdvancED, the umbrella group that includes the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, announced during a Dec. 17 press conference that the district is on accredited probation and has a year to make crucial reforms.
DeKalb County Schools officials did not return a message seeking comment. On a message posted on the system’s Facebook page, the board confirmed it had received notice from AdvancED but offered few details about its next steps.
“The district has received this information and will work collaboratively to review the findings and begin to address the required actions,” the Facebook post says. “The district still remains fully accredited and students’ academic status remains unchanged.”
A scathing report released by AdvancED says board interference in the day-to-day operations of the school system is rampant. The report says nepotism permeates the school system and board mismanagement of finances means the schools would have to close the school year early in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe that requires the school system to spend more money.He also said board interference with staff was rampant and that in some instances board members requested that athletes attend schools outside the athletes’ attendance zones.He said the board borrowed $25 million for textbooks, but did not spend the money on textbooks.
“This is not a governing body,” AdvancED President and CEO Mark Elgart told reporters. “What it is, is nine individuals who have political interests who are focused on ensuring that those political interests are managed by the staff in accordance with their requests. They fail at many levels to govern effectively.”
Elgart and the report do not name specific board members. Nancy Jester, District 1 board of education member, declined to comment.
“I’m out of town,” Jester said via email. “I have only limited access to email and no phone access. (I’m on a ship.) Sorry I can’t help. I’ll be back this weekend.”
Elgart said the school system will have until Dec. 31, 2013 to make necessary changes or lose its accreditation altogether.
If that happens, it means students will have trouble getting into college and obtaining scholarships, Elgart said. It will also affect DeKalb’s economic development prospects, he said.