Former state school superintendent John Barge, who ran for governor in 2014. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Brant Sanderlin/Georgia News Lab
Photo: Brant Sanderlin/Georgia News Lab

Former Georgia school chief’s new district is trouble

The school board members in McIntosh County face removal after running afoul of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and its accreditation rules.

Under state law, school board members in districts that risk accreditation loss can be suspended by the governor, and Gov. Nathan Deal’s education board on Thursday scheduled a hearing for Sept. 28 at 1 p.m.

The coastal Georgia school district is in the same predicament that the DeKalb County School District was in four years ago, back when John Barge was the Georgia schools superintendent.

Barge’s attorney at the state Department of Education participated in the hearing that led to the removal of two-thirds of the DeKalb school board. Now, Barge is on the other side of the process. (And that attorney went on to work for the DeKalb schools.)

After Barge lost his bid for governor in 2014, he landed the job as superintendent of McIntosh County Schools, and had to break the accreditation news to his school board.

He said in an interview Thursday that his school district is still accredited but that SACS knocked the level down to “under review,” one step removed from accreditation loss, “for board governance issues.”

Missy Brigman, chairwoman of the McIntosh school board, said Friday that she and the other four members of her board are trying to follow SACS’ recommendations.

“We’re following their lead and doing exactly what they ask us to do,” she said. For instance, they’ll attend governance and policy training next month with the Georgia School Boards Association, starting about a week ahead of the state hearing.

Brigman said “all of this happened” before she and one other board member took office in January. Since then, the board has been attempting to cure the problems, she said. Yet SACS took its accreditation action last month, suggesting, perhaps, that the efforts thus far have fallen short.

In other Education news:

A brief informational look at the HOPE educational programs including the HOPE Scholarship and the Zell Miller Scholarship.

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