SACS: Clayton schools on right path

The agency that oversees school accreditation sent Clayton County school officials an encouraging letter this week saying it is satisfied with the district’s plans to address board governance problems raised last fall.

The tone of the Jan. 28 letter is in stark contrast to a warning letter sent last September to the school district by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

“After careful consideration, we feel that the response you have provided is adequate for the school system to move forward in preparing for and hosting the External Review Visit,” SACS chief executive Mark Elgart said in the letter. SACS is slated to visit Clayton schools April 14-17 as part of its five-year accreditation review.

The letter went on to say the school system still faces “a significant transition with the appointment of a new superintendent and training will continue to be of great importance to ensure that both new board members and current board members understand and are confident in their roles and responsibilities.”

SACS stripped the school system of its accreditation in 2008 but restored it in 2011. Since then, the district has worked to maintain its accreditation, but not without challenges. Last fall, SACS sent the school district a warning letter after receiving reports of infighting and micromanaging that hampered the nine-member board’s effectiveness. SACS has repeatedly declined to name the source of those reports. The letter prompted outcry from the community residents and officials who feared the district’s accreditation could be in jeopardy again. Elgart visited the community in December hoping to quell those concerns.

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Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson responded to the warning letter with a detailed three-page letter sent earlier this month to SACS. Jackson’s letter outlined policies and practices the board and district are putting in place to address those issues as well as find a permanent superintendent.

“It was very positive,” Jackson said of SACS’ latest letter. “He (Elgart) said we’re ready for SACS in April.”

“We’re on the right road,” board member Alieka Anderson said Thursday. “We’ve been a team through it all. No matter what, at the end of the day, we’re a team.”

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