Three months ago, the Clayton County school district in Georgia lost its accreditation. Now another district in the state is also facing possible loss of accreditation from the Atlanta-based Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 4,000-student Haralson County district, in the northwest part of the state, has until the end of April to take steps to remain accredited.
And the list of seven governance mandates for its five-member board are similar to the improvement plan laid out for Clayton County, which lost its accreditation in September. (“Loss of Accreditation Rocks Georgia District,” Sept. 3, 2008.)
For Haralson, that includes the board not following a chain of command and interfering with district matters that are not board responsibility.
“We hope we’re on the road to recovery,” Kersha Cartright, a spokeswoman for the Haralson district, said. Board members have adopted an ethics policy and signed up for training, she added.
The Clayton County district, meanwhile, continues to work to recover its accreditation, after becoming the first in the nation in almost 40 years to lose it. That happened after the 50,000-student system south of Atlanta endured a tumultuous series of misdeeds by the nine-member board, including violations of open-meetings laws and interference in personnel matters.
Clayton County is working to meet a one-year deadline to complete such tasks as enacting an ethics policy, removing the influence of outside groups, and completing financial and attendance audits.
All the former Clayton County board members are gone, and seven new members have taken office. The last two seats were expected to be decided in a runoff this week. A new ethics commission has been set up.
Still to be addressed in January, however, is whether Superintendent John Thompson will become the district’s permanent superintendent.
Mark Elgart, the executive director of SACS, said that while there is “a lot of energy” from state officials on down to support the Clayton board, “it’s much too early to say with certainty that Clayton is improving.”
A version of this article appeared in the December 03, 2008 edition of Education Week