Several DCSS news items have hit the [newsstands] today.
These items follow the big debate on the Georgia Gang Sunday, where Dick Williams is quoted as having said, “And, the SACS report on DeKalb County was shoddy and flawed. Jeff, you above all know that. It was all hearsay, didn’t name any names. And, it resulted in the removal of the school board, and I think that’s good, because the board was dysfunctional. But, wait a minute, that SACS report didn’t make the case. They’re a shoddy agency. And, I encourage all these other school systems to look for other accreditations including the Georgia Accrediting Agency. There’s all kind of alternatives. This guy has no business meddling in the electoral process.”
Now, the PolitiFact Georgia, an opinion post in the AJC took their ‘Truth-O-Meter’ out to measure the reality of Michael Thurmond’s recent statement, “When SACS came back to the DeKalb County School District to give a midterm review, we got straight A’s.”
In their post, “DeKalb superintendent guilty of grade inflation in describing accreditation review,” the AJC asked, “We were intrigued by the superintendent’s statement. Had DeKalb, with its ongoing legal, financial and personnel issues, secured a perfect score with an accrediting agency? We decided to do our homework and find out.”
“Earlier this year, after the system was placed on probation, the governor removed and replaced six board members. The Georgia Supreme Court is expected to rule by November on a challenge to the law that allows governors to remove school boards in districts on probation.
“In May, a SACS team returned to DeKalb for a three-day review, as Thurmond noted during the parent meeting. The agency issued a report of its findings in July. The report indicated that all 11 required actions from the agency’s October 2012 visit were “in progress.”
“The monitoring team concluded that the district had made “recognizable progress.” The report also noted: “The overall progress of the district in addressing the required actions is still evolving and significant work remains to be accomplished.”
Another SACS monitoring team is scheduled to return to DeKalb for a two-day visit in December. In the meantime, the district remains on probation.
“We asked Thurmond’s office about the superintendent’s claim and reading of the SACS report.”
“In the educational arena, an ‘A’ grade is generally awarded when a student receives a score of 90-100. It is important to note that an ‘A’ does not require perfection, but an ‘A’ does represent significant and noteworthy achievement,” a district spokesman said in an email.”
“The spokesman said Thurmond was speaking metaphorically about the importance of the interim report, which noted significant improvements during the past two months and recognizable progress on addressing the 11 required actions.”
“PolitiFact Georgia also questioned SACS about Thurmond’s claim.”
“Agency representatives noted that AdvancED and SACS do not give letter grades to school systems. “(Thurmond) was clearly using an analogy that the monitoring visit was positive,” said an email from the company spokeswoman and CEO. “The report clearly indicates that the district is moving in the right direction but that the required actions remain In Progress as there is much work to be done in ensuing months and years.”
“We also checked with the Georgia School Boards Association, which helps boards prepare for SACS visits, for thoughts on Thurmond’s statement. A board development specialist with that agency deferred to SACS for an explanation.”
“So, was DeKalb Schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond correct that the district’s midterm review from an accrediting agency back in May resulted in a straight-A report card?”
Now, Thurmond and Mark Elgart are saddling up together and issuing a joint statement in response (penned by our new communications officer!)
The statement says, in part, ““We have no problem with the characterization by Superintendent Thurmond of our Monitoring Review Report dated May 15-17, 2013, “When SACS came back at midterm for review we got straight “A’s.” While not part of our assessment terminology, a school grade metaphor is appropriate for the Superintendent to use to describe what our team found in the midterm review. Indeed, we found that the DeKalb County School District had made noteworthy progress in all 11 Required Actions.” …
“Of particular note from the report, we observed that the district established and identified specific budget parameters with the goal to develop and implement a balanced budget for FY 2014. Student academic achievement and career readiness has been prioritized and work has begun to strengthen parent, guardian and mentor involvement in school and district business. The district has implemented a plan that will improve operational efficiency throughout DeKalb County School District and continue to rebuild trust with internal and external stakeholders.”
Download the entire press release here: Dekalb PolitiFact Response 10 16 13 2.FINAL
In addition, apparently, after four years, Crawford Lewis has decided to plead guilty.
Stan Jester has posted a new Fact Checker, ‘Crawford Lewis Pleads Guilty’
Crawford Lewis and crew were at the helm during DeKalb Schools’ darkest days of
corruption. Oddly, at the same time, SACS fully accredited the DeKalb School
District with no warnings saying “Effective leadership at all levels”.
Rhonda Cook of the AJC is reporting today
You may view Stan’s latest post at