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SACS to resume school visits next week

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Thirteen Clayton County schools are scheduled to be visited by accreditation officials next week, as efforts continue to get the school system fully accredited again.

Next Monday, through Thursday, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) will conduct two-day Quality Assurance Review (QAR) visits at Mt. Zion Primary School; Arnold, Jackson, Kilpatrick, McGarrah, Mt. Zion, Roberta T. Smith, and Tara elementary schools; Adamson, Jonesboro, M.D. Roberts and Rex Mill middle schools, and Jonesboro High School, according to the Clayton County Public Schools web site.

SACS Spokesperson Jennifer Oliver said the reviews are part of the schools system's efforts to regain full accreditation. The school district lost its accreditation in August 2008, but later regained it -- on a two-year probationary basis -- in May 2009. When the accreditation was restored, one of the requirements set for getting the district off probation was to have every school, open at that time, visited by a SACS QAR team by the end of this calendar year.

"Part of the two-year probation is for each school to go through a Quality Assurance Review visit," Oliver said. "They are supposed to go through with their normal Quality Assurance Reviews once every five years, and they had gotten off track."

Oliver said the review teams will meet with, and interview, the principals for each school, visit classrooms, and interview parents and community members. She added that it will take up to a month after the visits are completed for the review teams to complete their reports on the schools, and submit them to the Georgia office of AdvancED, which is SACS' parent organization.

In all, 64 regular schools, charter schools, and special programs (such as the district's Open Campus High School, Alternative School, WORKTEC, Ash Street School and Flint River School) in the Clayton County Public Schools system are expected to have been visited, and reviewed individually by SACS officials by the end of this year.

Earlier this year, School System Director of Fine Arts Kay Sledge, who oversees accreditation for the district, said the Eddie J. White K-8 Academy will be the only Clayton County school to not be visited this year. "The K-8 school will not be visited, because it's a new school [opened this month], and, therefore, has three years to have its review done," Sledge told the Clayton News Daily on March 12.

She could not be reached on Wednesday for comment about the upcoming visits.

In February of this year, the first round of QAR visits was conducted at eight Clayton County schools, including Anderson, Edmonds, Fountain, Lake City and Marshall elementary schools; Babb and Forest Park middle schools; and Morrow High School. At the time, school officials said review team members praised the first set of schools for their leadership, community involvement and dedication to student achievement.

According to a calendar on the school system's web site, the schedule for next week's SACS QAR visits will be:

* Aug. 23: Adamson and Rex Mill middle schools.

* Aug. 24: Jackson, McGarrah and Mt. Zion elementary schools, and Adamson, Jonesboro and Rex Mill middle schools.

* Aug. 25: Mt. Zion Primary School, as well as Arnold, Jackson, Kilpatrick, McGarrah, Mt. Zion, Roberta T. Smith and Tara elementary schools; Jonesboro and M.D. Roberts middle schools, and Jonesboro High School.

* Aug. 26: Mt. Zion Primary School, Arnold, Kilpatrick, Roberta T. Smith, and Tara elementary schools, M.D. Roberts Middle School, and Jonesboro High School.

Within the next month, SACS is scheduled to conduct QAR visits at nine more schools. A visit at Mt. Zion High School is scheduled to take place Sept. 1-2, according to the district's web site.

The web site also shows that the Unidos Dual Language Charter School, as well as East Clayton, Haynie, Huie, Morrow and E.J. Swint elementary schools; Morrow Middle School, and Forest Park High School are scheduled to be visited Sept. 13-15.

The district's web site shows subsequent visits are scheduled to take place: Oct. 19-20; Oct. 25-28; Nov. 3-4, and Nov. 15-18.

Additionally, SACS will conduct a separate, district-wide review visit Oct. 4-6.