All DeKalb high schools now accredited twice

As the Dunwoody Crier reports, in addition to our precarious SACS accreditation, all DeKalb high schools have now been fully accredited by the Georgia Accreditation Commission >>

Interestingly, it wasn’t an educator who pointed a way forward. Dunwoody Councilman Terry Nall began to search for a backup plan. It led to a state agency not widely familiar to the public.

The Georgia Accreditation Commission exists to do exactly what SACS/AdvancED does but with a lower profile and lower costs.

Nall used city council resolutions and persistence with the DeKalb school board and its superintendent, Michael Thurmond. They agreed over time to seek that second opinion and GAC was hired.

Its consultants began site visits and earlier this month rendered a verdict.

In a letter to Nall, the executive director of the GAC, Phil Murphy, told Nall his board had voted unanimously to approve the DeKalb consultants’ recommendation.

“All high schools were ‘Accredited with Quality,’ which means they met all standards,” he wrote.

That is the commission’s highest rating.

The DeKalb school board heard the news last week.

Since Nall began the effort, SACS/AdvancedEd has lifted the county school system from probation, but even if school board behavior again turned below standards, high school students’ diplomas, scholarship efforts and the like would be unaffected.

Many thanks to Dunwoody Councilman Terry Nall!!

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So, to recap the board actions of late >> (A DSW digression)

  1. Stan Jester asked the board to allocate most of the mid-year extra funds to give raises to teachers. The board voted him down.
  2. Jim McMahan asked for a motion to require next year’s budget to adhere to the state’s mandated minimum standard of spending 65% of the operating budget directly in the classroom. The board voted him down.
  3. [UPDATE & CORRECTION: The board didn’t have a chance to vote it down, the school district attorney prevented them from taking a vote]

  4. Now, in response to SACS placing DeKalb schools on probation, mainly due to board behavior and budgetary issues, it was a local politician from Dunwoody, not the DeKalb school board who after forming an alliance with Michael Thurmond, pushed and received accreditation for our high schools from a state accrediting agency that actually analyzes educational outcomes as part of their formula for accreditation.

Looks like this school board is zero for three. Add to these failures, our board chair publicly gave and continues to give District 1 rep Stan Jester a large amount of grief because Stan wouldn’t allow the DCSD internal HR staff to do his required background check, opting instead to use the Dunwoody Police, DeKalb Police and GBI — Chair Melvin Johnson then turns around and appoints a convicted felon who publicly asked the Board to circumvent bidding rules and hire black firms to the community committee charged with narrowing the list of candidates for superintendent.

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John Evans, convicted felon [ John H. EVANS, Jr., Petitioner v. UNITED STATES. ] and president of the DeKalb County NAACP, is on record publicly urging the school board to “look past qualifications and a straight forward bid process” and hire a “black firm”. Evans said, “in a normal straight forward bid process [black firms] won’t make it. I know we won’t make it.” Evans went on to suggest they [DeKalb School Board] “massage the process to make sure we have black representation.” Evans is urging the school board to conduct illegal activity.

Being a convicted felon is perfectly ok to our board chair. But just try circumventing the school system’s HR department and there will be hell to pay from Chair Melvin Johnson – who also negotiated a contract between New Birth Church and DeKalb schools for over $10,000 a month for ‘rent’ for the Leadership Prep Academy Charter School, which has since replaced the private Christian school that used to operate within the walls of New Birth… brilliant move! Use public funds to pay for your private school! We wonder if Dunwoody Baptist could get away with the same thing. Think about it – It’s worth a shot!

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13 Responses to All DeKalb high schools now accredited twice

  1. Refugee from DCSS says:

    Today on the Georgia Gang, Jeff Dickerson claims he “doesn’t remember” Michael Thurmond ever being opposed to GAC dual accreditation.

    Either he has advanced Alzheimers or he is utterly deranged.

  2. Stan Jester says:

    05/01/2013 – Michael Thurmond at DCPC

    Meeting Summary
    … Terry Nall and Fran Millar peppered Mr. Thurmond with facts as he refused to support dual accreditation for high schools across DeKalb. Mr. Thurmond implored parents to acknowledge things were getting better to no avail.

    Q&A Summary

    Fran Millar: What are your thoughts on the charter clusters and dual accreditation?
    Thurmond: I will not support anything that undermines the value [of full district accreditation]. I love charters, I love theme schools. But at the end of the day, I gotta fix [all the low performing] schools.

  3. Thanks Stan. More interesting Q&A from that meeting at the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council >>

    Question: It’s not a wise policy for the administrators to tell principals to control their parents.
    Thurmond: Parents are an untapped resource we are going to use to lift this district up from the bottom.

    Fran Millar: What are your thoughts on the charter clusters and dual accreditation?
    Thurmond: I will not support anything that undermines the value [of full district accreditation]. I love charters, I love theme schools. But at the end of the day, I gotta fix [all the low performing] schools.

    Question: Exactly what is your strategy to get parents in low performing schools more involved?
    Thurmond: To reach out to you and reach out to parents across the district. … To encourage the [parents] to participate in the education of their children.

    Page Olsen: I disagree with you on dual accreditation. Also, school councils have been neglected, underfunded, and need a larger role in the selection of schoolhouse employees.
    Thurmond: I agree with that. The policy on the table being discussed is that the council would have an advisory role.

    Question: We’re looking for some big moves to show that you mean what you say.
    Thurmond: What we have to do is evolve and to accommodate. Things are getting better every day.

    Don McChesney:
    We have a nepotism policy. Please stop saying we don’t.
    Thurmond: Even if we had it, but it’s not respected, not adhered to, then in my mind we don’t have it.
    Stan Jester: Why can’t you just implement the old one?
    Thurmond: It wasn’t strong enough. It doesn’t really make sense.

    Question: Class sizes are too big.
    Thurmond: Oh, absolutely.

    Question:
    Will DeKalb once again be asking for a waiver from the state that their class sizes be 8 students higher than the state maximum.
    Thurmond: It’s a status quo budget.

  4. DavidS says:

    Refugee: I thought the same thing this morning when I heard Dickerson’s remark. My recollection was that Thurmond was dragged kicking and screaming to, at the time, not dual accreditation, but alternate accreditation. When it looked like their kids’ academic future was in jeopardy, parents got involved and Nall and Millar made something happen. Now Thurmond, as usual, is congratulating himself and his staff for the wonderful job they’ve done.
    One thing to keep in mind is that, as nice as it is to have the accreditation, it speaks only to the framework, or capability of the school system. Until we get rid of the administrative bloat, spend our funding properly and give teachers the tools and freedom to actually teach, the system will still be shortchanging our kids.

  5. nannerpuddin39 says:

    . The school system will NEVER improve until all the incompetent administrators at the Palace are GONE, HR has new knowledgeable employees, and a new capable educated superintendent is hired! When I was hired in 1972 it was such a honor to be associated with such a school system. Then in 2000 I retired and was ashamed to be known to have been employed! I still hold on to some hope for change but it is getting less and less!

  6. DeKalbFamily says:

    I’m confused. If there is any accountability at DCSS it is the result of Nancy Jester’s initial questions about the budget, the ensuing SACS probation, and a growing coalition of DCSS Board members who question the status quo at Board meetings. Doesn’t the GAC Accreditation take the pressure for accountability off this administration? GAC gave every high school in DeKalb County an “excellent” rating? Really?

  7. thedeal2 says:

    I’m curious about what aspect of our high schools are excellent rating besides some of our students and teachers. I know GAC didn’t accredit because of those, so I’m skeptical about what type of commission gives DCSD a pass on this.

  8. kirklunde says:

    To set the record straight, the BOE did not vote against Jim’s proposal to spend 65% of the fiscal 2016 budget in the classroom. The board’s lawyer wouldn’t let them vote on it because it wasn’t on the agenda.

    Hopefully, it will be an action item during the April work session.

    Board Resolution 1.0 Regarding the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.
    Whereas the DeKalb County BOE has failed to approve budgets which spend more than 65% of of expenditures in the classroom,
    and
    Whereas the DeKalb County BOE has requested class size waivers from the state even after stating one of their top priorities was to reduce class size,
    and
    Whereas the DeKalb County BOE acknowledges the employees of the district do not always provide accurate information to the public or the Board,
    It is resolved that the FY ’16 DeKalb County School District Budget will direct 65% of all expenditures into direct classroom expenses as defined by the State.

  9. Thanks for the clarification, Kirk. And thanks for the chuckle. Did you send them your suggested ‘Action Item’?

  10. FWIW; the GAC accreditation states, ““All high schools were ‘Accredited with Quality,’ which means they met all standards,” …

    http://gac.coe.uga.edu/gac-standards/accreditation-requirements-for-all-schools-agencies-and-centers-organization/

    Here is a document listing their qualifications >> https://ebssp.eboardsolutions.com/sites/henry/Documents/Accreditation/Georgia%20Accrediting%20Commission%20Standards.pdf

    Other schools accredited by GAC >> http://gac.coe.uga.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2013-2014-Public-Schools.10-13.pdf

    Not sure how we skipped by this one >> “The superintendent or headmaster holds a five – year Georgia administrator’s certificate in order for any school in the system to be accredited. In non – public schools, the superintendent or headmaster holds, as a minimum, a master’s degree with a minimum of 15 semester hours in school administration and supervision. “

  11. howdy1942 says:

    @nannerpudding39 – I absolutely live your name and wish that I had thought of it. I’ll bet that you cook the best banana pudding around and that is my very favorite desert. Just had to share that – the news at the Dekalb County School System isn’t that good, but I’ll just bet your banana pudding is.

  12. howdy1942 says:

    @nannerpudding39 – excuse my typo – I mean to say that I love your name and wish that I had thought of it.

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