The review is scheduled to be conducted remotely between June 13-16. Cognia will also review documentation and interview the people involved in the complaints, including the parents and community members who lodged them as well as the superintendent and board members, Tyler said.
“We follow the evidence wherever that lies,” she said. “It’s not restricted to any one area.”
About 30 days later, the review team will issue a report to the superintendent listing findings and next steps, Tyler said. The notice said the review team would provide improvement priorities “that will require decisive action for correction” and follow-up documentation from the school district.
The Gwinnett school district will be responsible for the special review fee of $9,000, according to the letter.
The complaints filed to Cognia are confidential, but some parents and community members have publicly criticized the school board in recent months for buying out the Wilbanks’ contract.
Last year, Democrats Tarece Johnson and Karen Watkins defeated longtime incumbents to win seats on the school board. When Johnson and Watkins took office in January, they joined Blair to create a nonwhite Democratic majority on the five-person board.
Those three members voted in March to oust Wilbanks, with Steven Knudsen and Mary Kay Murphy, who are white and Republican, in opposition.
Public opinion of the new school board and its actions has become polarized, with each side accusing the other of racism and partisanship.
The Gwinnett school district is currently accredited through June 30, 2022.
Blair said the Gwinnett school board has completed double the amount of team development trainings that the Georgia School Boards Association requires. He said some of the community complaints were about oversight, operations and academic accountability.
In response, the school district plans to share how it is addressing challenges, including response to the coronavirus pandemic, Blair said.
Cognia is also reviewing the accreditation of Cobb County Schools in response to complaints that the Democratic board members there are being silenced by the Republican majority.