An accrediting group placed Atlanta’s high schools on probation last week, saying in a report that the decision was driven by fierce infighting among the district’s board members and a breakdown in board leadership.
AdvancED, the parent organization of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, said that when a review team visited the district in early December, it heard about board votes taken without proper approval, staged media events to promote the board chairman’s personal agenda, a board member using a district-issued charge card for personal expenses, and continuing fallout from an investigation into allegations of cheating on state tests.
Factions on the board have hardened to the point that most votes now are 5-4, according to the report, which was prepared at the request of board members who said they were concerned they weren’t able to govern.
AdvancED is giving the district until the end of September to make changes, said Mark A. Elgart, the organization’s chief executive officer. For now, the high schools remain accredited, so students are not at risk of having college or scholarship applications disrupted this school year.
Mr. Elgart said it was notable that Atlanta had gone from a district honored for its strong management 18 months ago to a “state of paralysis.” Clearly, he said, “it’s gotten to a place of being personal for them.”
Keith Bromery, the spokesman for the Atlanta public schools, said the 47,800-student district would work closely with AdvancED to prove it was making progress. Atlanta’s elementary and middle schools are not affected because they are accredited by a different organization.
A version of this article appeared in the January 26, 2011 edition of Education Week as Atlanta’s Public High Schools Placed on Probation