URGENT! DCSS High School Councils, PTSAs, Parents and Community

PLEASE READ NOW!

This is an URGENT notice to every local high school council, including charter high school governance council, and PTSA in DeKalb County.

Earlier this year, DeKalb Schools stakeholders and local elected officials asked Superintendent Thurmond and the DeKalb Board of Education to allow every high school in DeKalb to seek dual accreditation, should a local school council and high school community desire to do for its students.  The Georgia Accrediting Commission accredits schools throughout Georgia, many of which also have accreditation by SACS.

Prior to making a decision, the Superintendent asked for research of the GAC costs, timelines, standards, and other considerations.  This information was provided to him promptly.  After a two-hour meeting this week, the Superintendent  continues to delay on his decision.

Does SACS permit dual accreditation?  Yes! Dozens of precedents already exist in Georgia. Additionally, the  AdvancED Accreditation Policies and Procedures for NCA CASI, NWAC, and SACS CASI Accreditation makes no reference to a prohibition on dual accreditation nor does it fall under any of the five guidelines as cause for a school district to lose its accreditation.

The timeline is critical.  Unless the dual accreditation process begins NOW, it will not happen before December 2013, when SACS has advised that it will make another determination on whether or not DeKalb remains on probation or loses accreditation entirely.

DeKalb students deserve a safety net.  Whether or not the School Board is successful in keeping SACS accreditation, dual accreditation is a win-win for the schools that opt to seek it.  While the GAC is not recognized nationally as a regional accrediting agency, it carries considerable weight by admission departments as a state accrediting agency.  Parents have talked to admission departments at Ivy League, top tier, and other out of state colleges and universities and have been assured that dual accreditation would definitely help applying students  if DeKalb loses SACS accreditation.

The cost is modest, less than $2,000 (community donors can fund the cost).  The documentation required for accreditation is already available in each school.  Certain criteria, including class sizes  that are out of our control are already waived by GAC for schools throughout Georgia.

Superintendent Thurmond must make a decision NOW, allowing DeKalb high schools to pursue dual accreditation.

Email our school board representatives and Superintendent Thurmond:  urge them to give our students the safety net they deserve by permitting DeKalb high schools to seek dual accreditation by the Georgia Accrediting Commission.

NOTE below:  CORRECTED e-mail address for John Coleman …

michael_l_thurmond@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Forward this email to friends, neighbors, colleagues, and anyone concerned about accreditation for DeKalb high schools.

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Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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9 Responses to URGENT! DCSS High School Councils, PTSAs, Parents and Community

  1. dcssfrustratedparent says:

    Interesting that the email addresses of all the BoE members is so prominently part of the post. Isn’t one of the “no no’s” from SACS the BoE “meddling” in the school system operations? I for one would consider this question of duel accreditation as an operational issue to be decided by the Administration and NOT the BoE.

  2. hopespringseternal says:

    So are people really buying that Elgart stuff about board members not taking citizens’ concerns? Really? It’s just that — stuff. You see, this is why we’re supposed to elect sound and discerning representatives. They are supposed to be receptive to hearing concerns, know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em… OK I won’t break into song here. But this heavy hand dealt by Elgart doesn’t have to be accepted. Ask any other citizen in Georgia if his BOE representatives are not supposed to listen to a constituent’s issue. He will laugh out loud. Similarly, it is just as laughable that BOE members are not supposed to caucus with each other — just as every other governing body does. Again, this is where the sanity and discernment kick in — they have to caucus over the right things, not step into the administration, blah blah. Good Lord.

    As for this post and contacting BOE members about the accreditation issue, the “prominence” looks to me like simply a case of the BOE email addresses being displayed as hyperlinks. I feel that elected or appointed, black or white, one-headed or two-headed, I can contact my representative about any gosh-darned thing I want to contact him or her about — and even if it is to say “thanks and I’ll forward to the administration”, they need to be responsive. And if they’ve developed a position on an issue, I’d like to hear it. And if they haven’t, I’d like to hear why. This is my right. This their obligation. And Mark Elgart doesn’t get to tell them how to think, and they don’t get to tell me they’re not allowed to think ’cause SACS said so. The very core of this post has to do with another accreditation route, since this BOE is being extorted — “play my way or I might withhold your accreditation. And take your money while I’m withholding it”. Mr. Elgart, in the figurative sense, may need to familiarize himself with long walks off short piers. Have there been abuses in the past with BOE members overstepping? Yes. Will BOE members have to do better with not interfering? Yes. Does this mean they (and therefore WE) should be totally suppressed?

  3. You can always email the entire board and/or the superintendent by clicking our link on the right side panel of the blog’s home page.

  4. dcssfrustratedparent says:

    @Dekalbschoolwatch – you are correct in “you can always email the entire board ….” post but what I notice no one has commented on is the direct appearance to “appeal” to the BoE to attempt to influence the discussion when that tactic is precisely what SACs has said the previous BoE’s have done “improperly” – no comment on that ?

  5. I don’t think SACS can or even wants to prevent citizens from expressing their opinions on topics under consideration by the Board. You have every right to inform them regarding your feeling on the budget, the overall balance of staffing, transportation issues, instructional issues – whatever. This in fact, helps them to direct the super better. However, what you can’t do is demand a certain person hired as principal/teacher/coach/chief bottle washer at your school. You can’t appeal to your board rep to inspect your child’s grade, or school or scholarship or whatever… See. It’s umbrella topics that you can express to the board – not your own microscopic issue. Those must be discussed up the chain of command through the staff.

  6. dekalbite2 says:

    Email the BOE and express your support for lower class sizes at the expense of non teaching positions. Tell them you don’t want millions a year spent on lawyers. Ask them to cut the travel expense. These are all decisions that the BOE can vote yes or no on. Thurmond (or whoever is directing him) can only plan or propose. The BOE must fund his plans. If he proposes class sizes that are inappropriate for children like the last superintendents, the BOE does not have to approve his plans. If his budgetary proposal calls for $12,000,000 in legal fees, the BOE does not have to approve that.

    The BOE has the power to approve every plan or proposal Thurmond makes because every proposal costs money every year. That’s why there is a budget. Email the entire BOE and let them know where you want your tax dollars spent – in the classroom on teachers directly instructing students. They are the final deciders on the money. They can vote no and send Thurmond back to the drawing board for another plan. SACS does not say they have to vote yes to his budget. As a matter of fact, the SACS report says too many times the budgetary cuts that were proposed by the superintendents and approved by the BOE were to personnel who directly impacted student achievement. SACS implied that the BOE should have refused the budgets of Lewis, Tyson and Atkinson when they gutted the classroom.

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Dekalbite
    SACS has made it perfectly clear that boards will be reprimanded for going against the administration. No way the board votes down anything the administration proposes. SACS may have implied they should have voted down the budget, but SACS consistently contradicts itself.

    The Curious Case Of Policy DJE
    SACS said DCSD needed a particular policy. The school administration came up with the policy. After the policy was passed, the administration refused to follow it. The board kept asking them to follow it. SACS came down on the board for asking the administration to follow the policy. I’m not making this up.

  8. I would rather take vouchers for private schools, but the accreditation is important for next year’s seniors. I thought SACS said it was pretty certain we would not lose accreditation. If there is a way to make it happen, though, Lakeside sure is working hard at ruining the schools for everyone. They are determined to drive wedges between every possible alliance across boundaries that anyone has ever built.

  9. The Dunwoody Crier has a new article on the same subject – and they reference this post as well:

    Local school issues coming to a head

    Last week, Thurmond had Nall ask the chief accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/AdvancED if it opposed dual accreditation. Nall quickly learned that it does not.

    Nall said Thurmond also raised the question of whether the decision should be made by the school board.

    Late last week the popular blog DeKalb SchoolWatch2 urged a campaign pressuring Thurmond and the new school board members to allow any high school to seek dual accreditation.

    +++

    Add to this: In the article in the Crier, Thurmond tells Terry Nall of Dunwoody, to ask Elgart himself if dual accreditation is a problem. Nall did and it is not. Our question: If Thurmond is in supposed steady contact with SACS as they ‘mentor’ DeKalb in regaining full accreditation (which they now way will take years, not months), then why didn’t Thurmond just ask Elgart himself? Why not just pick up the phone and call Elgart himself? Why make Nall track the guy down – knowing that Elgart generally doesn’t respond to ordinary folks? Actions speak so much louder than words.

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