Today’s state hearing of the DeKalb County Board of Education began at 1 p.m. sharp with a brief outline of the charges made by SACS that has placed the school system on Probation.
Then, the attorney representing the board, from Sutherland, Asbill and Associates, responded in words rarely heard in DeKalb: “All of the members of the DeKalb County Board of Education have agreed…” He then continued to lay out the proposed consent agreement that would allow the board to remain in place for another three months before any recommendation is made to the Governor about whether or not the board should be suspended.
For several hours, the DeKalb County Board of Education stood before the state Board of Education, one by one, making personal statements and then answering questions. The attorneys for both sides have tentatively agreed to a three-month period of status quo to allow the board to work on addressing the issues brought forward by SACS in order to prove they can save the county’s accreditation.
Armed mainly with the SACS report, state board members asked direct, yet respectful questions that centered largely upon whether the board is capable to do in three months what they have not been able to do for years.
Each DeKalb member was given time at the podium to voice his or her commitment to the plan to save the accreditation. Several voiced concerns with the “interpretation” of the SACS findings, but stated they were committed to working together on the action items put forth by SACS.
“I am committed to the actions laid out in the SACS report,” said chairman Dr. Eugene Walker. “I may not agree with the interpretation of all the items that SACS says led up to those actions, but I do agree with the actions that the reports tell us to address.”
There were concerns voiced by the state board members, in front of a small audience of fewer than 50 reporters and county stakeholders, about how they individually may or may not have been guilty of the items in the report.
Issues about a north / south or racial divide in the county were explained by new board member Marshall Orson as being partially a part of the county’s history but also more focused upon by those who might benefit from putting forth the image of a divide.
Orson stated that one of the reasons he ran for office was to bring consensus to the board and help bring about a culture change. He was then asked about reports of visiting schools in his district which he admitted to doing, as did another new member, Melvin Johnson.
The state BOE is only able to recommend to the Governor to either suspend the entire board or allow them to execute the consent order. Essentially the consent order, which has not been made pubic, should be an admission of the board’s role in the items that have led to the Probation status.
The hearing will reconvene on Feb. 21.
This article first appeared on Tucker Patch.