DeKalb Schools Placed on Probation
An accrediting agency takes a serious step in the ongoing controversy.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed the DeKalb County School System on probation, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.
“I’m disappointed that they’re going to put us on probation. Nobody wants to be on probation,” school board chairman Eugene Walker said. "We’ve not done anything egregious,” he added.
"The big concerns are the effectiveness of the school board to govern the school system and the second is the ability of this board to be good stewards to the system's resources, principally the financial resources of the system," Dr. Mark Elgart of SACS told Fox 5.
Some parents of children at schools in Stone Mountain and Lithonia are wondering what the future may hold.
"My concern is, what does this mean for the students? They need to be graduating from accredited high schools," said Deborah Sills, who has a junior at Stephenson High School. "I don't feel schools should suffer, or the students should suffer because of a school board."
Among the items of concern are the district's legal bills and utility costs.
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has co-operated with SACS investigators and says more than 300 central office jobs have been eliminated. "We not only had to deal with our budget and a deficit, we worked hard to address whatever concerns were brought," said Atkinson.
Walker said he’s confident the system can address the complaints and regain full standing.
A call placed to DeKalb Schools spokesperson Jeff Dickerson was not immediately returned.
Henry Louis Adams, a parent in Stone Mountain and Patch blogger, said in a Facebook message:
The fact that SACS investigated the school board and found issues that were worthy of the board being on probation is a clear signal to parents in Dekalb County that we have a school board that is disconnected from their primary purpose. A healthy school system must be on one accord and able to govern proactively and with critical thinking skills assuring that every decision is based on the betterment of the students of Dekalb County. Personal issues and infighting are a distraction to the professional and collective goals and vision of the Dekalb County school system. Integrity and fair collective governing should be a priority when making decisions that will strengthen and shape the immediate and future educational needs of our school children. If Dekalb were to lose its accreditation behind a incompetent boards ability to work collectively together with integrity; this could destroy the county in the area of education and revenue. Parents trust that we have a board that is responsible. If that is not the case, in the best interest of the county, the board should be replaced. - Henry Louis Adams
Evelyn Cunningham, PTSA president at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Lithonia and wife of school board member Jay Cunningham, said she is not giving up hope on DeKalb County schools.
"They need to make sure all the schools are premiere, not just one or two," she said.
"I believe the board itself can get things together," said Cunningham, whose children have graduated from MLK Jr. to become business owners and professionals.
"I believe we can be a force to be reckoned with," she said.