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SACS celebration scheduled for Clayton Schools

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jeylin White

jwhite@news-daily.com

Clayton County Public Schools is teaming up with county business and civic leaders to throw a community bash to celebrate the school district regaining its full Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation status -- free of the "probationary" strings that had been attached for the last two years.

"All of Clayton County was affected by the loss of accreditation," said Dr. Stefanie Phillips, Clayton Public Schools deputy superintendent. "The lifting of the probation was accomplished in continuous collaboration with the entire Clayton County community, and would not have been possible without our parents."

"This celebration is a way of thanking our community for staying with us," said Rhonda Burnough, community relations liaison for the school system. "Everyone had to make sacrifices, so everyone should come out and celebrate."

The community celebration will take place at The Gerald Matthew's Soccer Complex, in Lovejoy, Saturday, July 30, from 3 p.m., to 7 p.m. Burnough said it will include an array of activities, with something for everyone to enjoy. Marcus D. Wiley, a radio personality with radio station, Praise 102.5, will host the event.

There will be an assortment of card and board games, relay races, free food, and the festivities will feature the talents of school students and school staff members, along with community performers, Burnough said.

"We're hoping we can create Clayton County's largest electric slide," she added.

"Our hope," Phillips said, "is that the entire community can attend, and enjoy a celebration worthy of our achievement."

To keep the event free to the public, Burnough said, donations are being accepted. There is a particular need for bottled water, she said. Any donations can be dropped off at the following locations:

* The Board of Education Administrative Complex, at 1058 Fifth Avenue, in Jonesboro.

* The Carl Rhodenizer Recreation Center, at 3499 Rex Road, in Rex.

*Jim Huie Recreation Center, at 9045 Tara Boulevard, in Jonesboro.

* The Virginia Burton Gray Recreation Center, at 1475 East Fayetteville Rd., in Riverdale.

The fight to regain full accreditation has been a long, arduous struggle for the county's school board, administrators, teachers, parents, students and concerned community members. The 2008 loss of accreditation, was enacted by SACS after it determed the school district was being run by a dysfunctional school board that was rudderless, had lost its way, and was involved in micromanaging the school system, rather than setting policy and sticking to its true duties.

The loss of accreditation worsened the economic effects of the recession that struck the entire nation, as it caused students and their families to leave the school system, and property values to plummet.

In 2009, the school district won back its accreditation, but was put on a two-year probation, until it could prove it had mastered all of SACS mandates. In May of this year, SACS determined the district had achieved the improvements it had demanded, and the probationary status was removed.

When school officials received the news, Board Chairperson Pamela Adamson boasted of being "extremely proud" of the board, the school system's administrators, teachers, students, and the community for taking the steps necessary to finally end the district's accreditation trauma.

"Everybody who's on the board right now, came on board during all of this mess," Adamson said, then. "Everybody ran to try to get that accreditation back, so I'm extremely proud of the work that we've accomplished."

According to a statement from the accrediting agency, the lifting of the probationary status means the district is fully accredited for the next five years, and will not have to undergo another review by SACS and AdvancED until 2016.

For more information about the celebration and donations, contact Rhonda Burnough at, (770) 473-2760.