Clayton County (Ga.) district shows progress, accreditation team says

Nov. 3, 2009
Review team says district can keep probationary accreditation

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A review by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has found that the Clayton County (Ga.) district is making progress, but still has steps to take before becoming a “quality” district. The review team has recommended that the school system keep its probationary accreditation. A final vote will be made on Jan. 26.

FROM MARCH 2009: The Clayton County (Ga.) school board has fired the superintendent brought in 11 months ago to save the troubled system’s accreditation. John Thompson was dismissed about a month before the 47,000-student district has one more chance to prove it deserves to be re-accredited. If it fails, the district would need to start over, a process that could take about three years. Clayton County is the only school system in the United States to lose accreditation in 40 years.
Read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

FROM SEPTEMBER 2008: Upset about his lack of authority in the Clayton County school district, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is looking at a possible change to the state constitution to allow the state to intervene more with troubled school systems. Dozens of Clayton County residents have asked Perdue to take control of the 50,000-student school system, which lost accreditation last week. The governor’s executive legal team is looking at what it would take for the state to step in. For Georgia, the Senate and House would have to approve a change to the state constitution. The amendment would then need voter approval in a statewide referendum.To read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click here. EARLIER: Even though the school system has lost its accreditation, Clayton County, Ga., officials are promisin that every senior will graduate with an accredited diploma in May. But some parents remain unconvinced. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools last week revoked the 50,000-student district’s accreditation. On Tuesday, schools officials told parents they have a plan that includes working toward reinstatement, seeking accreditation from another agency and a lawsuit. If the district meets SACS’ nine mandates by Sept. 1, 2009, accreditation will be re-instated and made retroactive to Sept, 1, 2008, SACS has said. School attorney Julie Lewis says she plans to have the system reaccredited by April 1. To read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click here.

The Clayton County (Ga.) School District has become the nation’s first in nearly 40 years to lose its accreditation, and the governor removed four of its school board members for ethics violations. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, one of the nation’s six major private accrediting agencies, concluded that Clayton board members failed to meet the group’s standards for leading a school system. An investigation by the agency found that county officials had not made sufficient progress toward establishing an effective school board, removing the influence of outside individuals on board decisions, enforcing an ethics policy or meeting other requirements for accreditation.
To read The New York Times article, click here.

REACTION: The loss of accreditation for Clayton County schools has left students, parents and residents reeling at the realization of “worthless” diplomas, dashed college dreams, depressed home values and an exodus of families.
To read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click here.

ALSO: In the aftermath of news that Clayton County schools will lose their accreditation, a school board meeting turned into an opportunity for some 200 parents and students to voice their frustration and anger. Superintendent John Thompson took questions for about an hour Thursday night. He asked the crowd to be patient and work together to restore accreditation. Few had any patience left. To read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click here.

FROM MAY 2008: Calling the Clayton County (Ga.) school board dysfunctional and unable to save its accreditation, two governor-appointed advisers have withdrawn their services. James E. Bostic Jr. and William "Brad" Bryant, two state board of education members appointed to help Clayton, say they will no longer work with the board. Bostic and Bryant cited policy violations by the board and members putting "their interests above the boys and girls of the school district." They say their efforts to assist Clayton have been "unwelcome and disregarded."
Click here to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

FROM MARCH 2008: The two finalists for Clayton County (Ga.) schools temporary superintendent don't have what it takes to salvage the district's accreditation, the head of the accreditation agency says. Mark A. Elgart, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' president and chief executive officer, says neither John W. Thompson nor Santiago V. Wood is the leader the agency wants to see at the helm of Clayton schools. The school board's attorney says Thompson and Wood still are in the running and could be offered a contract to lead the 52,800-student district in its fight to hold on to accreditation.
Click here to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

EARLIER: The Clayton County (Ga.) school system will likely lose accreditation at the end of the summer, a group charged with overseeing the nation's schools has decided. The National Accreditation Commission board voted unanimously to revoke the 52,800-student district's accreditation on Sept. 1. The only chance the district has to hold on to accreditation is to meet nine mandates by September. But that is highly unlikely.
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Clayton County, Ga., school officials are hiring a temporary leader to help the district try to hold to its accreditation. According to a release from the school attorney's office, the district's superintendent search firm has recommended that the search for a permanent superintendent be suspended until January. The firm recommended that a "corrective superintendent" not interested in the permanent position be hired to address accreditation issues. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave the district nine mandates to meet or lose their accreditation effective Sept. 1.
Click here to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.

FEBRUARY 2008: A national accrediting agency is recommending that Clayton County (Ga.) schools' accreditation be revoked Sept. 1. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says it found significant concerns at all levels of the 52,800-student district. The National Accreditation Commission will review the findings and vote March 15 whether to strip Clayton of its accreditation.
To read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, click here.

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