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NAACP makes school board recommendations

By Trina Trice

The Clayton County chapter of the NAACP is calling for the Clayton County Board of Education to have an open forum to address concerns residents have on the school system's accreditation status.

The local group would also like the school board to start its superintendent search from scratch, so that it will be well-publicized nationally.

The NAACP is "deeply concerned" about incidents and actions involving the board that have led to the school system being placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it said in a statement released Wednesday.

SACS is a non-profit organization that accredits more than 13,000 elementary and secondary schools and post-secondary institutions in the Southeast.

The accrediting agency sent a six-member team to conduct an onsite investigation of the school system in May. In a report compiled in late May, the team found that some of the actions of board leadership had violated board policies.

"We take this report seriously because of the possible effect the loss of accreditation would have on our children and county," said Dexter Matthews, president of the Clayton County NAACP. "We continue to receive many calls related to this matter. We urge that these problems be resolved as soon as possible in order to bring the school system to where it needs to go."

The NAACP made several recommendations to the school board, which include that all board members attend some conflict resolution training and adopt the Georgia School Boards Association standards.

Board member Ericka Davis agrees.

"I would love for us to develop better communication among board members so that we can function in a democratic fashion," she said prior to the NAACP statement. "I hope we vote to adopt the GSBA School Board Standards, as many other school systems have, to show our constituents that we mean business when we say that we want our conduct and actions relative to their children and this system to be exemplary."

Next week the board is attending a two-day retreat with representatives from the GSBA.

The GSBA provides a variety of services, which include helping school boards with conflict management, goal-setting, and board evaluations, said Siss Henry, executive director of the GSBA.

The organization also assists school boards with a superintendent search. The organization is currently helping three Georgia school boards in their search for a school chief.

Board Vice Chairwoman Connie Kitchens did not feel comfortable commenting on the NAACP recommendations, saying, "I have not been privy to that information. Until the NAACP sends me that information, I don't think it would be (wise) to comment on it at this time."

As for an open forum to present the board's strategy for getting off of probation, Kitchens said, "Everything we've taken and heard, we're taking to the retreat. After the retreat we'll know more about (a strategy) and can comment further."