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DeKalb school district off probation
by LaTria Garnigan
January 24, 2014 02:06 PM | 2407 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AP/David Goldman/From left, DeKalb County school board member Jim McMahan, board chair Melvin Johnson, Superintendent Michael Thurmond and Stone Mountain High School Student DeMarco Poole.
AP/David Goldman/From left, DeKalb County school board member Jim McMahan, board chair Melvin Johnson, Superintendent Michael Thurmond and Stone Mountain High School Student DeMarco Poole.
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DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond and school officials celebrated a big victory last week, but the system still has work to do, according to officials.

Mark Elgart, CEO of AdvancED presented the findings from the Dec. 8 to 10, 2013 district visit. While the district has accomplished much in a year’s time, there are still several steps needed to be off the organization’s watch list.

“As a result the team made a recommendation to place the system on ‘accredited warned’ for 2014,” said Elgart, to the packed room. “This is a significant move, one in which quite frankly a year ago you were close to losing it. The threat of loss of accreditation is no longer imminent.”

Being off of probation is a sigh of relief for a school district that has dealt with leadership and financial turmoil for several years. Michael Thurmond replaced former Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson in February of 2013, and Gov. Nathan Deal suspended and replaced six of the nine school board members in March of 2013.

Thurmond, who cemented that he will stay on with the school district through June 2015, said, in a statement, “The stain of probation has been eradicated from the DeKalb school district. The decision to upgrade the district’s accreditation status provides a sense of pride and relief to our internal and external stakeholders.”

The school district’s problems were not created overnight, and will not be resolved in a short amount of time, said Elgart. He added out of the 11 required actions the district was expected to address, eight of them have been completed, with three remaining in progress. There are also three new required actions the district must complete.

“Quite frankly that’s further along than we expected given the short tenure you had as a new board and superintendent,” said Elgart.

The three required actions that are still in progress for the school district are:
-to devise and implement a written, comprehensive plan for unifying the school board so that the focus can become serving the needs of the children of the school district
-establish and implement policies that ensure segregation of duties of the governing board and that of the administration including the elimination of board working communities, which result in board members assuming administrative functions that should be the responsibility of appropriate staff
-ensure a robust diagnostic assessment program that is a systematic and a regular component of the school system’s comprehensive assessment system, include a variety of formative assessment tasks and tools to monitor student progress and provide school personnel access to the State Longitudinal Data System.

Gov. Nathan Deal spoke after Elgart and said the school district has come a long way in a year’s time.

“A year ago we were all entering uncharted waters,” he said. “Put in a position of saying ‘what can we do?’ I was hearing from high school students about what would the accreditation issue have on entering a college of their choice.”

Deal responded to critics who claimed his actions in removing the previous school board were too bold.

“But I want to say ‘thank you’ to those on this board — you have shown my actions and confidence in you to be well placed,” he said. “You have improved the quality of education in this community and your contribution will be noted in many years to come.”

Do you agree with the accreditation status?


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