Thursday, October 28, 2010

SACS will either visit or investigate DeKalb schools

Depending on which AJC posting you find more reliable, SACS will either "investigate" DeKalb Schools - or SACS will "visit" DeKalb Schools. Does anyone know which it is?

By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A school regulatory agency will visit DeKalb County schools to ensure the district is meeting national accreditation standards, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution learned late Thursday.

The school system’s accreditation is safe for now, but the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools told the district they have concerns. On Thursday, SACS told DeKalb officials to expect a visit before Feb. 1.


Or read the other post on the same subject --

By Megan Matteucci
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


DeKalb County schools’ accreditation is safe for now, but the school system will undergo a national probe.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools decided Thursday night to investigate the school system, citing several areas of concern. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned that SACS will visit in February.


To download the letter from SACS in response to DCSS's formal answers to SACS questions, click here.

UPDATE - The new headline at the AJC reads, "SACS will evaluate DeKalb schools". So that's it - they're not investigating or visiting - they're "evaluating".

The school system’s accreditation is safe for now, but the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools told the district they have concerns that must be addressed by early 2012. On Thursday, SACS told DeKalb officials to expect the first visit before Feb. 1.

“This visit is focused on helping them move forward in the challenges they face,” SACS’ president and CEO Mark A. Elgart told the AJC. “They are in a state of uncertainty. They have lingering legal matters. They have an interim superintendent and potential changes in board makeup because of the election.”

Elgart said the review has not reached the level of a full-scale investigation similar to several other systems now under scrutiny, but said SACS has some serious concerns.

39 comments:

No Duh said...

"Make available artifacts, and if need be copies of the same, for the team's review."

Well, if Walker, Roberts and Wood are re-elected, we will have fulfilled the artifact (and copies of the same) request.

Anonymous said...

This is great assistance being offered by SACS. The things they are asking are routine in every standard visit-not like Clayton County at all. I hope we accept thier assistance and put this system on the road to recovery.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, we will have five new members of the Dekalb County School Board at the close of next Tuesday, November 2, 2010. That will be a huge step in the right direction. I think that these five new members will form a strong team and their election will serve notice to the remaining four members that their positive participation is not an option.

Secondly, I hope that this new School Board will recruit a strong superintendent, one with leadership and team building skills. Also, I hope that this new superintendent will have the wisdom and courage to get Dekalb's house in order and to reduce the size of its bloated bureaucracy. Next year will be one of reduced tax revenues and we need to find the savings to pay SACS for their "visit" or "investigation" or "probe".

Again, please take the time to vote - vote these people who have failed Dekalb County out of office.

Anonymous said...

I've been through a SACS accreditation review process when they looked at individual schools...a midterm evaluation is not a bad thing. I think the school system scored pretty well when SACS came around for the district review, and so this kind of review wasn't needed. But our school scored like a C+, and there were a host of recommendations. A few years later they came back for the review to see if we had done those things that were asked of us.

My guess is that as long as DeKalb responds, communicates, and changes policy to reflect what SACS wants, and then sticks to the policies, things should go well.

Anonymous said...

Gee whizz!

I wonder what "concerns" SACS could possibly have about DCSS . . . .

Anonymous said...

It is clear that the forward motion that DCSS is taking in changing policies and censuring bad behavior is keeping us on the proper path that SACs is looking for.

The key will be in enforcing those policies moving forward. And it will be years before we really know if those changes amount to anything. By then, all of us and SACs, will most likely have moved on.

If we can't recruit and hire a top notch superintendent, none of this matters very much.

Anonymous said...

I also think Elgart has his hands full in November now thanks to the alledgedly illegal activities on the Atlanta School Board.

The deadline of Dec.1 sounds pretty ominous to me and the inability of their board to get this fixed is problematic.

What do the Atlanta and DeKalb boards have in common?

NINE members. (Atlanta only has about 50,000 students)

Both are to large. Gwinnett just won the Broad Award with 5, Cobb has 5 and Fulton has 7.

It is time for the legislative delegation to fix this. NOW.

Anonymous said...

Days before sending the 2,500 pages to SACS, the board approved policies concerning employee ethics, whistleblowers, purchasing and staff conflict of interest.

Bowen acknowledged that was intended to salvage accreditation.

“I think this is as good as we could get if you are a realist,” Bowen said. “We really got on best behavior as a system in 90 days. I think this is not a free pass. It says we’ve made corrections, but we got more work to do.”

The simple fact that the board approved policy changes, implies that the board/DCSS Admin were OK with things the way they were prior to any SACS involvement. Do we need anything more that suggests change is needed?

We need new board members, people!

VOTE for the children (and our property values)

VOTE out the incompetent incumbents!

Dunwoody Mom said...

The AJC has been pretty much fair and accurate with their reporting. However, I think in their haste to be the "first" to report this, they did not have all the facts before they went with their first headline.

Well, I'm not sure it's a bad thing the board finally woke up and realized they needed to change course - regardless of the reasons. The reason that Clayton CO and APS ran afoul of SACS is because they did not listen to them and went along merrily their own way.

Anonymous said...

You know what, I think it is presumptuous to assume that any board member knew that a principal or area superintendent was selling books to schools. There are ongoing investigations of similar behaviors -- stuff that not many people would even imagine was going on. It is shocking that the sellers didn't realize that this was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Didn't know? They knew she was on Martha Stewart and other radio/TV shows on a school day. She was given multiple platitudes at BOE meetings.

Come on, there was no institutional control from the Supt. Office, and the BOE enables much of the mess. No one ever checked the figures and other info. from Pat Pope. No one even check the supt.'s spending an travel. HE went to the freaking BAHAMAS with another school upper level administrator (who still has her job) on a DCSS p-card, even though he was warned by CFO Marcus Turk not to do so. And Turk still paid the charges. Only after it became public knowledge did Lewis re-pay his out of country, non-work travel.

The BOE has a see no evil, hear no evil approach. The are solely repsonsible for ensuring a system of checks & balances is in place. Why the heck do we even have an Office of Internal Affairs?

Anonymous said...

This is a positive step that indicates that we are taking steps to remedy our problems. Advanced Ed's letter does not say investigate. With their help in our new planning process and the state department's help in our school closing we will become a more efficient and better school system. Both Advanced Ed and the new planning process stress stakeholder input. Ms. Tyson has asked teachers and administrators to attend the charettes and instructed them not to talk but to listen. The planning process will have separate focus groups and surveys for teachers.
Other good news
Seven additional schools made AYP on the retest.

Anonymous said...

Stone Mountain Middle school not only made AYP but came off the needs improvement list!

Schools that came off AYP list:

Browns Mill Elementary School

Cedar Grove Elementary School

Cross Keys High School

Peachtree Middle School

Shamrock Middle School

Sky Haven Elementary School

Stone Mountain Middle School

Toney Elementary School

Woodridge Elementary School

Cerebration said...

Bottom line - where the leadership has failed, the students and teachers continued to do the hard work and marched on to save our system's reputation.

Anonymous said...

"I think the school system scored pretty well when SACS came around for the district review, and so this kind of review wasn't needed."

I always heard that Gloria Talley was hired to get DCSS through the SACS review. She was a Director at the Southern Regional Regional Education Board which has close ties to SACS. She no doubt knew the verbiage that SACS needed to hear.

No Duh said...

Can someone explain what being the "parent arm" means with relation to SACS, and exactly what AdvancED is and how it is related to SACS?

What law requires school systems to be members of SACS? How does membership work? Systems pay for membership, right? Can someone help me follow the money trail?

What entity (if any) oversees/regulates SACS?

Anonymous said...

Advanced ED is the parent company of SACS.

Colleges require high schools to be accredited in order to admit students from their schools. Accreditation is considered to be a "seal of approval" like the Good Housekeeping seal I suppose.

(If homeschooled or from a non-accredited high school, students often have to jump through more hooops for admission.)

In many states, only high schools are accredited.

Dunwoody Mom said...

SACS also provides accreditation to colleges. Several years ago, they placed Auburn University on probation because of meddlesome Board members.

Anonymous said...

Last night SACS gave DCSS the green light after reviewing the District's 2500 page response. No risk of loss of accreditation this cycle. Kudos to Ramona, the attorneys, and those that put the response together.

Anonymous said...

Some of the descriptions are very clear, dues, fuel, garnishments (a lot of those) but what do we think this is

BOOT ALLOWANCE-BARGAINING - $440.00

Ella Smith said...

SACS could probable wants to be around to observe the school redistricting and closings which will be happening in the next 3-4 months. If the current board members are still on the school board it will be very interesting.

Some schools may need to close and some redistricting does need to occur. However, no one wants it to happen in their backyard which is understandable. No one wants to have to change the school their children attend. Some parents spend a great deal of money to buy a house in an area that is overpriced due to the school district. If the school districts change these individuals could lose property value on their home. This could be an issue for some of these parents. The situation is much more complex than just changing school lines. There is no simple solution and there is no way everyone will be happy at the end of the process.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:44 says "Last night SACS gave DCSS the green light after reviewing the District's 2500 page response. No risk of loss of accreditation this cycle. Kudos to Ramona, the attorneys, and those that put the response together."

Ramona et al were just doing a great CYA routine to keep the jobs afloat.

This just kicks the can down the road until 2012. Unless there is a seismic change in the BOE on Tuesday (which I doubt since SACS did not pull the trigger) and hiring of a take no prisoners superintendent (which I also doubt will happen, especially if the BOE remains largely the same), the status quo will be maintained. The administration will remain as is and prosper. Every day in which the cancer is left to linger and metastasize steals from the children.

SACS will "evaluate" and not "investigate" because the latter is one step below the loss of accreditation and the State can then step in. SACS is a useless wimp as far as curing what ails DCSS.

Ella Smith said...

SAC may want
spent a great deal of money

I have not been drinking. I need to slow down and proof before I push the buttom. However it is hard for me to slow down.

I am just a HEAD SPED. This is what my students tell me from time to time and laugh with me. We can laugh at each other and it is fine.

I just need to run away to my home in Panama City for a long week-end and then I might have a drink and watch the sunset.

No Duh said...

Yeah, yeah, I know SACS awards accreditation to schools and colleges require students be from accredited schools, but I don't understand what ties all these organizations together.

AdvancEd is a Company.
SACS is an association.
Companies have clients. Associations have members.

How does AdvancEd make money? What is its "business"? How was the "power vested" to SACS to be the ultimate accreditation authority and by whom?

I'm not trying to be a smart-aleck. I really don't understand who does what to whom and how...

Anonymous said...

"No one even check the supt.'s spending an travel. HE went to the freaking BAHAMAS with another school upper level administrator (who still has her job) on a DCSS p-card, even though he was warned by CFO Marcus Turk not to do so. And Turk still paid the charges. Only after it became public knowledge did Lewis re-pay his out of country, non-work travel."

Just why does this employee still have her job. How can the teachers respect any of her initiatives? What a slap in the face of the teachers.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:39
"Just why does this employee still have her job. How can the teachers respect any of her initiatives? What a slap in the face of the teachers."

Actually, what kind of a role model is she for students? Is this the way they are to "get ahead"?

Anonymous said...

How can anyone respect Marcus Turk for not alerting The Office Of Internal Affairs about the principal who has sold thousand dollars of her books and then Marcus Turk didnot follow through with taking her purchasing card.
Apparently, the card was being abused for personal spending. Probally on her book tours or etc. To say that she didnot know this was a violation is pretty outrageous for a person who calls herself a leader.
Now, she has the nerve to get a lawyer as though , she is being a victim.When in fact, she stole from her staff, children, and the school system. From what is being said, she is still being paid by the DCSS.If she was an honest person, and did not understand protocol on stealing /writing herself a big bonus check, then why didn't she ask Marcus Turk or her Area Director? All good things must come to an END! Plus, let Martha Stewart or Paula Deen Hire this woman or CNN.

themommy said...

The accredited schools, systems, colleges universities etc pay SACs for the privilddge.

There are competitors to SACs. Some are:

* Georgia Accrediting Commission
* Georgia Association of Christian Schools
* Georgia Association of Christian Schools
* Association of Christian Schools International
* Georgia Private School Accreditation Council
* Accrediting Commission for Independent Study
* Southern Association of Independent Schools
* Distance Education Training Council

Both Clayton and Warren counties looked at the option of dropping SACs accreditation and going with another accreditor. I believe, as Clayton was working with SACs to restore accreditation, they were simultaneously working on the paperwork for another agency.

From a quick search of the rules from the GA department of ed, I find none that require accreditation.

SACs is highly respected for its requirements, but I think if you and I wanted to start a private high school and went with one of the other agencies listed above, no one would think twice. The question that is generally asked is "Are you accredited?" Not who accredits you?

However, I think being SACs accredited carries more credibility than the others.

themommy said...

When you read the articles about the Atlanta situation in the AJC, the consequence of losing accreditation that is cited consistently is the college admission and HOPE scholarship issue. I thought I saw something about Pre-k funding as well, but can't find it. Clearly, state funding isn't pulled or that would be mentioned and it would have been a huge part of the story in Clayton and Warren.

This tidbit from the AJC about the reaction to the letter from SACs to Atlanta, I found interesting though:

It has also threatened community and financial support. One of the system's biggest philanthropic supporters, the GE Foundation, said in a letter it would pull grant funding if APS loses accreditation.

Anonymous said...

The problem that I see with the misuse of the P-card is that employees from other state agencies (GA Tech comes first to mind) who have misused their P-card were prosecuted and given fines and jail time. Why is that not happening here?

I am just a former teacher and it makes sense to me that travel expenses for the book that you wrote don't count as school district expenses. If someone wants you to come and talk or do a book tour, they can pay your expenses if you can't afford to, or you stay home.

I think that Marcus Turk and anyone who has misused a P-card, benefited from the misuse of a P-card, or knew about the misuse of a P-card should be fired, fined for the amounts that they stole, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even if you pay back the money, it was still stealing to begin with and stealing is stealing.

If our school system and can't show the students in its attendance right from wrong, we have a much bigger problem than the poor quality of education we are providing our children on a daily basis.

themommy said...

http://www.advanc-ed.org/board-trustees

Board of Trustees

http://www.advanc-ed.org/executive-leadership

Professional leadership

The questions you ask No Duh are good ones. Who appoints the board? Are the accredited schools, colleges, etc the members since they pay to participate? Do they have a say in the board?

It is a a very confusing structure.

Anonymous said...

Yes, violators of the P -card should be fired. Then, investigate to see why Marcus Turk would allow such misuse from high officials and administrators. And the principal who recently lost her job peddling book sales is still receiving pay from the school district. Why?
It is obvious that the people in Internal Affairs were on vacation during the time all of these get rich principals, and other leeches, double dippers were squeezing the blood out of the taxpayers. But, remember, these were friends of the Family and Friends plans scratching each other's back. And still is!!!!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:34

The leeches, double dippers and other assorted miscreants have been given the go ahead by SACS to continue squeezing the blood out of the taxpayers for at least two more years.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8;27
"I think that Marcus Turk and anyone who has misused a P-card, benefited from the misuse of a P-card, or knew about the misuse of a P-card should be fired, fined for the amounts that they stole, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Even if you pay back the money, it was still stealing to begin with and stealing is stealing.
"

I agree. If it is shown that the female employee who the DA says accompanied Lewis to the Bahamas and the Plantation Resort on the county P-card knew, benefited or profited from illegal use of public funds, then she should be terminated and prosecuted as well.

Anonymous said...

If SACS had been doing their job in the first place, DCSS would not be in this shape. This is their job.

It's a shame that so many students had to suffer from misspent funds and the AJC had to publish article after article before SACS finally was forced to investigate DCSS. I have absolutely lost all respect for SACS.

Anonymous said...

SACs has a limited scope.

Clayton and Warren counties got caught by SACs because they had insiders who were willing to go on the record about bad behaviors.

DeKalb apparently has not had this.

I believe that it was Heery Mitchell's money that lured the main whistle blowers out, but of course, we won't ever know that for sure.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what happened at the principal's hearing? Since, she is still being paid DCSS, one can say that, Ms. Butler is still getting over on the county once again.
Let me guess- She and her sibling (Ms. Roberts) will be in court for a long time stalling time and still getting paid from the system. What a shame to know that you two were involved in stealing money from the system and still refuses to take your punishment with a smile. In fact, one I think was a counselor. Who apparently now, needs counseling now for not taking ownership of her wrong doing- using the school system to promote books and traveling on the county's expense for self financial gain. But,dont remember to thank Clueless Lewis and non -speaking Cunningham for this principal's rise to fame over Dr. Shannon Williams. Who was qualified as the Wellness Director while the former Director only talked about her diet which many failed to see as an experienced person with a health background in nutrition. Thank you, Mr. Lewis.Let us hope that all of these leeches and gold diggers will stay out of the taxpayers wallets for 2011.

Anonymous said...

Out of all of Crwaford Lewis' dismal decisions, promoting Yvonne Butler over Shannon Williams was like promoting a high school basketball player over Dominique Wilkins. Shannon was an expert in her field and a consumate professional. Yvonne Butler simply was in the right place at the right itme, and could self-promote like no one's business.

Shannon bought huge grants funds to DCSS. No one is there now who can duplicate that. And it's our students who lose.

Anonymous said...

I am curious how you know that she is being paid by the school system, still.

Because she says so? Or do you have other evidence?