SACS clears Cherokee school district

An investigation into claims of misconduct by Cherokee County school system officials has ended with no violations found, Superintendent Frank Petruzielo said on Wednesday.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools cleared the school system of accusations by school board member Kelly Marlow that it had broken open meetings laws and board policies, according to a letter sent to system officials Monday by Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, the parent company of SACS.

Petruzielo said Marlow’s allegations were “very serious and without merit.”

“Clearly, this removes the dark cloud of potential accreditation issues/risks that was cast over our outstanding school district, and eliminates the distraction that these allegations have caused for our community and staff,” Petruzielo wrote in a letter to district employees.

Marlow’s complaint to SACS, filed in June, said the school board wasn’t able to effectively govern the school system. She said school board chairwoman Janet Read insulted residents, altered board agendas and misled other board members.

Read said Wednesday the SACS investigation showed Marlow’s claims were baseless.

“SACS did their due diligence, and based on their investigation, there was no merit to the allegations,” Read said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to refocusing on teaching and learning.”

Marlow didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.

In a separate incident, Marlow was charged by police in July with giving false statements when she reported Petruzielo’s car charged her.

She also faces an ethics hearing for violating board rules by making an individual request for a SACS investigation.

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