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Mum's the word from Clayton school officials on accreditation

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

With the visit from a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) review team behind them, Clayton County school officials are now keeping quiet about the ongoing accreditation crisis.

SACS officials expect to receive a report from the review team late next week. A national accrediting body will convene shortly thereafter, either by conference call, or through the Internet, to review the team's findings, said Jennifer Oliver, a spokesperson for the accrediting agency.

The school system has taken a stance of no more media comments about the accreditation crisis until the 40-member AdvancED Accrediting Commission votes during the week of Aug. 25. A decision will be announced by Aug. 29.

"We feel it would be inappropriate to comment on the SACS issue until they make their decision," said school district spokesman, Charles White. "We're just going to wait and see what happens."

The review team wrapped up its two-day visit to the district on Friday. As was the case on Thursday, the investigators spent the final day of their visit interviewing community members and school board candidates, as well as reviewing the district's 2,300-page response document, at the school system's central office, Oliver said.

Now that the visit is over, the review team will discuss their observations as a group. Individual members will then write portions of the team's final report, with the team leader taking responsibility for compiling the document for the accreditation commission. Once a vote is taken, SACS officials will meet with school system officials to discuss the outcome.

Oliver said SACS officials want to avoid a prolonged period where people are left wondering what will happen to Clayton County schools.

"We know everyone down there is anxious to see what they [the team] decide, so we're committed to have the decision made available to them by the end of the week of Aug. 25," Oliver said.

In February, SACS president Mark Elgart recommended the district's accreditation be revoked, if the schol system did not meet, or make significant progress toward, nine mandates for improvement by Sept. 1. The AdvancED Accreditation Commission approved the recommendation in March, and would have to vote to reverse that decision, if the school system's accreditation is to be saved.

District officials have repeatedly proclaimed their belief that accreditation will be retained.