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SACS visits schools to see progress to regain full accreditation

Ken Watts | 12/13/2013, 6 a.m.

A week from DeKalb Schools’ first anniversary on accreditation probation, a team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools returned for a much-anticipated follow-up inspection of the district.

The two-day visit began on Dec. 9, eight days from the anniversary of the Dec. 17, 2012, date that SACS placed the district on probation for governance, financial and student performance issues.

During the year, six of the School Board’s nine members were replaced by appointees, the board found a budget surplus, and former state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond became school superintendent.

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Michael Thurmond

For this week’s visit, school spokesman Quinn Hudson said the five-member SACS team interviewed board members, Thurmond, central office staff, principals, parents and business leaders and received a status update on progress toward correcting deficiencies identified last December. School leaders are hoping the inspection will lead to the district regaining full accreditation.

SACS threatened to strip accreditation if the district failed to address 11 “required actions” by this month.

AdvancEd, the parent company of SACS, said in a July 5 report that the district was making “noteworthy” and “significant” changes, but to regain full accreditation, it needed to demonstrate that it could “sustain the improvements.”

Thurmond said Tuesday that the SACS visit went well and that he is confident that the district has solved many of the problems that were of concern to the agency.

“We welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate the significant progress that has been made over the past 10 months,” Thurmond said. “The district eagerly awaits a final decision on our accreditation status.”

SACS is expected to release a progress report and an accreditation decision by the end of January.