Updated 2:12 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed the DeKalb County School System on probation until December 31, 2013.
“I’m disappointed that they’re going to put us on probation. Nobody wants to be on probation,” school board chairman Eugene Walker said. "We’ve not done anything egregious,” he added.
"The big concerns are the effectiveness of the school board to govern the school system and the second is the ability of this board to be good stewards to the system's resources, principally the financial resources of the system," Dr. Mark Elgart of SACS told Fox 5. In particular, the district's legal bills and utility costs have come under scrutiny.
Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has co-operated with SACS investigators and says more than 300 central office jobs have been eliminated. "We not only had to deal with our budget and a deficit, we worked hard to address whatever concerns were brought," said Atkinson.
The district will have until May 31, 2013 to make progress in complying with the Special Review Team’s Required Actions and subsequently must complete those by Dec. 31, 2013. The requirements are:
1. Devise and implement a written, comprehensive plan for unifying the DeKalb County Board of Education so that the focus can become serving the needs of the children of the DeKalb County School District.
2. Ensure that all actions and decisions of the DeKalb County Board of Education are reflective of the collective Board and consistent with approved policies and procedures and all applicable laws, regulations and standards, rather than individual board members acting independently and undermining the authority of the Superintendent to lead and manage day-to-day operations.
3. Establish and implement policies and procedures that ensure segregation of duties of the governing board and that of the administration including the elimination of Board working committees that result in board members assuming administrative functions that should be the responsibility of appropriate staff.
4. Implement and adhere to fiscally responsible policies and practices that ensure the DeKalb County Board of Education will adopt and ensure proper implementation of budgets within the financial means of the school system and that support the delivery of an educational program that meets the needs of the students.
"There is significant and irrefutable evidence that the DeKalb County School District is in a state of conflict and chaos,” Elgart said in a statement Monday. "This failure to govern effectively has resulted in a decline in student performance, financial mismanagement, and lack of integrity and ethics in recruiting, appointing and evaluating personnel at all levels of the school system."
DeKalb Schools spokesman Jeff Dickerson declined to comment Monday, telling Tucker Patch, "I haven't seen the report. I'm out of town."
Elgart returned Patch's call this afternoon, and said, "I hope they take this seriously. Time will tell. They need to commit to it. There has been a pattern of saying they will fix things, and then they fall back. They have to break that trend."
Do you have children who go to DeKalb schools? How do you feel about the probation?