Senate OKs Clayton accreditation bill

ATLANTA - The Senate Tuesday overwhelmingly passed legislation that would give voters in school districts that lose accreditation an automatic right to recall their entire local board of education.

The bill, prompted by the threat to Clayton County Public Schools' accreditation, was approved 43-3 with little debate on the annual "Crossover Day" in the General Assembly, the deadline for bills to pass at least one legislative chamber.

The legislation, introduced on behalf of Gov. Sonny Perdue, for the first time would require all Georgia public schools to have accreditation. High schools typically have voluntarily sought to be accredited because it is required for students to receive HOPE scholarships.

Clayton schools were notified last month by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that the system could lose accreditation on Sept. 1 unless district officials make improvements in nine areas cited in a report by the organization.

SACS' parent association is expected to vote Saturday in Chicago on whether to finalize the recommendation on the system's accreditation.

Perdue's bill would automatically trigger an election, in any school district that loses its accreditation, on whether to remove the school board.

If the referendum is approved, the Georgia Board of Education would appoint interim replacements for the deposed board members until an election could be held.

The legislation now moves to the House.