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BOE claims accreditation not at risk

By Rachel Shirey

rachel@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — Chairperson Pam Adamson began Monday night’s Board of Education work session by claiming Clayton County is not at risk of losing its accreditation, despite a formal warning letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Adamson said the letter was intended to be a “heads up,” and not a “witch hunt.” She continued to suggest that the letter was a cautionary action to remind them of the new procedure for expressing governance concerns.

However, the letter doesn’t reference any new procedure and instead discusses concerns of school board conflict and micromanagement.

“The current board of education continues to operate with much conflict between and among board members as well as individual board members launching attacks on the school system and its personnel,” states the letter.

After Adamson suggested that the school system won’t lose its accreditation, she hedged, saying that if the district were to lose its accreditation it would be able to fall back on the individual schools. The schools could be accredited for another four years.

Charlton Bivins of District 9 addressed the school board conflict, suggesting the BOE “call out” the individual board members causing strife “because the actions of a few are affecting many.”

“Are we going to be that aggressive?” Bivins questioned.

Vice Chairwoman Mary Baker immediately shot down that idea by saying Dr. Mark Elgart, president of SACS’ parent organization, AdvancED, isn’t looking for pointed fingers and doesn’t want to call people out. He wants to know how the board is going to move forward in a positive way.

For Jessie Goree of District 3, however, the SACS letter came as a surprise and she said she feels disrespected.

“It’s as good as it can get. We have good leadership,” Goree said. “We are not guilty.”

The board is required to submit a letter, indicating what progress has been made toward the issues mentioned in the letter from SACS by Jan. 15. Board members are also required to describe their readiness for the External Review Visit for District Accreditation.