DeKalb Schools made ‘material progress,’ student achievement elusive

7/25/2014, 7:46 a.m.

The DeKalb School District has made “material progress” correcting problems that led to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placing the school system on accreditation probation in December 2012.

SACS took the district off probationary status in January but declined to restore full accreditation after its latest monitoring visit in May.

In its May visit report, released by the district on July 18, SACS kept DeKalb Schools on “warned” status, which is two notches below full accreditation.

The new SACS report, dated July 2, said the system is stabilizing and is on a path to continuous improvement but still has work to do to improve student achievement. SACS made a similar observation in January.

“However, the school system faces several critical challenges that can threaten the sustainability of the progress made,” the report said.

Mark Elgart

Mark Elgart

The district has completed work on nine of SACS’ 14 “required actions,” but Mark Elgart, CEO of AdvancED, SACS’ parent company, said the accrediting agency is concerned about “disruption in leadership” that could make it harder for the district to sustain its progress.

Elgart was anticipating results of the July 22 runoff election involving three current appointed members.

Only one of the three, District 3 board member Dr. Michael Erwin, retained his seat. In January, only two of the six board members appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal in March 2013 will be on the board. Erwin will join former appointed District 7 board member Dr. Joyce Morley, who won her seat on May 20.

Two other appointed members – John Coleman and David Campbell – did not seek election.

The district also has to find a new superintendent to replace Michael Thurmond, whose contract ends June 2015.

The SACS report says steady progress must be maintained “in order for the system to fully focus its talents and resources on student achievement and providing every student a 21st century education.”

The monitoring team will review the district again on Dec. 15, 2014. The school system is required to send SACS an institutional progress report at least two weeks before that review.