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Schools' accreditation, 'corrective' leader to be decided

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The future of Clayton County schools will be decided on Saturday -- in both Jonesboro, and Chicago, Ill.

A recommendation to revoke the school system's accreditation could be accepted while the board of education is interviewing candidates to become a one-year "corrective" leader for the 52,805-student district.

The 33-member AdvancED Accreditation Commission, the parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), will vote on a recommendation to revoke the school system's accreditation before the governing board concludes its meeting at 4 p.m., Central Standard Time (5 p.m. Eastern Time).

SACS officials are recommending the measure because an investigation of the school system uncovered alleged micromanagement, unethical behavior and misuse of district funds by board members.

The district has to meet nine recommendations for change by Sept. 1 to avoid losing its accreditation.

School system officials in Jonesboro are not expecting the commission will grant a reprieve to the district.

"The [accreditation] meeting in Chicago is a formality, so there will be no surprise coming from that," said Glenn Brock, the attorney hired by the board to handle the school system's response to SACS. "I am certain the SACS recommendation will be accepted."

Dr. Mark Elgart, president of SACS' Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, said the commission will look at 60 school system accreditation reports on Saturday.

Clayton County's report is the only investigative report in the group, he added. The remaining 59 reports are on school systems whose accreditation is up for renewal.

The commission will break up into small groups to review the reports. The groups will make recommendations to the entire commission during the afternoon. Elgart will give a presentation to the commission to explain the methods used by SACS during its investigation of Clayton County schools.

"The commission has received the [Clayton County] report in advance and has had an opportunity to review it," Elgart said.

Meanwhile, the Clayton County Board of Education will hold a called meeting at the district's Central Administration Complex, 1058 Fifth Ave., Jonesboro at 4 p.m., to vote on hiring a corrective superintendent.

The search firm, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, Ltd., urged the use of a corrective school chief, after reviewing data collected from the community, which indicated that community members were not comfortable with the current board picking the new, permanent superintendent.

According to the school board, a corrective superintendent will be someone who is experienced enough to lead the district as it tries to meet the nine mandates from SACS.

Board of education Chairperson Ericka Davis could not be reached for comment.

The board members will participate in a training session on how to interview and select, a superintendent on Saturday at 9 a.m., at the central office. They will then go into executive session at 10:30 a.m., to interview candidates for the corrective school chief position.

The finalists for the position will be named when the board comes out of executive session at 4 p.m., for its called meeting.

The board will then vote on accepting the search firm's recommendation to suspend the permanent superintendent search so a corrective leader can be chosen. Next, board members will vote on terminating the contract of Interim Superintendent Dr. Gloria Duncan, and decide on what her next assignment will be for the district.

The final action item on the agenda is the appointment of a corrective superintendent.

Brock said the board and the corrective superintendent will have to determine what he or she will be paid. He added he does not expect it to be "significantly more" than what Interim Superintendent Duncan is being paid.

Duncan had an annual salary of $176,000, according to her contract.