(Updated 6:35 p.m. Jan. 21)
The DeKalb County School District had its accreditation status upgraded to "accredited warned" in a special called meeting Tuesday morning.
Mark Elgart, the president and chief executive officer of SACS parent company AdvancED, recognized the district's improvements in presenting a report to the Board of Education. Elgart noted that:
- The district is moving in the right direction.
- The threat of loss of accreditation no longer is imminent.
- More time is needed to complete improvements.
"Did you say we were no longer on accredited probation?" Superintendent Michael Thurmond asked Elgart at the end of his presentation. Elgart responded, "I did." After a pause for applause, Elgart added: "And Mr. Thurmond, keep it that way."
Gov. Nathan Deal also appeared briefly to congratulate the district on the progress it has made. On Dec. 17, 2012, SACS placed the district on Accredited Probation status, pending the resolution of 11 ‘required actions’ by the end of 2013. Deal also replaced six of the nine board members during that time of turmoil.
Elgart commended the district for its work in completing eight of those 11 actions, particularly in light of the turmoil and changes in leadership. Two of the three areas involved clarifying policies and the "segregation of duties," setting a clear line between board governance and the administration.
Elgart also set three new "required actions" for the district, essentially building upon the foundation of the past year's work. The actions included:
- Establishing and sustaining the board as an effective governing body.
- Develop a system to focus on and monitor changes and improvements in programs
- Adapt a system-wide technology plan that is equitable to students in all part of the county.
The report concluded: “The progress made by the DeKalb County School District since May 2013 is commendable. Many programs, policies and processes have been put into place to stabilize the school system and begin to restore confidence and trust among stakeholder groups.”
“The stain of probation has been eradicated from the DeKalb School District," Thurmond said in a statement.. “The decision to upgrade the District’s accreditation status provides a sense of pride and relief to our internal and external stakeholders.”
Melvin Johnson, board chairman added, “The Board is committed to continuing the important work that will serve as the foundation for the construction of a brighter future for all of our chilldren.”
The District’s upgraded status will not negatively impact the eligibility of DCSD graduates who seek collegiate financial aid, grants or scholarships.
The District has posted more details on its progress and challenges on its website. And they have also posted the complete monitoring review report from AdvancED on their Dec. 8-10 visit to the District.