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What is the Impact of Losing Accreditation?

Citizens gathered Tuesday to discuss the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' decision to put DeKalb schools on probation, and what the future could hold if the school system loses accreditation.

The effects of a school system losing accreditation include businesses and residents moving out in droves, declining property values and a bad perception of the area, a speaker told  group of concerned parents and citizens meeting at Hairston Crossing Library in Stone Mountain.

The information came from someone who has seen it firsthand: Lisa Cameron of Clayton County, which lost its school accreditation in 2008.

The gathering was organized to discuss how the community should respond to the recent report by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which placed the DeKalb County School System on probation until December 2013.

Possible scenarios include losing accreditation. “If you don’t have a quality school system, you really don’t have economic development,” said Cameron, MPA Executive Director of Cameron Social Sciences, Inc., addressing two back-to-back sessions Tuesday night.  “Good companies are going to come where there are strong schools.”

Some 20,000 people left Clayton County; 3,200 students exited, Cameron said. Businesses such as JC Penney moved to Henry County.

Losing accreditation could lead to other issues. If the cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody decide to create their own school systems, said meeting organizer and Stone Mountain resident Calvin Sims, DCSD would have $100 million fewer dollars to work with.

“You probably never thought a school board could impact our economics that much,” Sims said.

Cameron advised parents to let their voices be heard by joining school councils, where they can offer more input, and PTSAs.

Among the 20-30 in attendance were Betsy Parks, who started one of the online petitions asking the state to replace the school board -- which has more than 800 signatures - and John Evans, president of the DeKalb NAACP. Evans urged people to come to the hearing Thursday (Jan. 17) at the Georgia Department of Education where members of the DeKalb County school board will need to show why they should not be replaced.

The state board will send a recommendation to Gov. Nathan Deal on whether the board should be replaced.

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