The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has put the Atlanta Public Schools on nine months probation.
If APS does not address the concerns raised by SACS, it could end up losing its accreditation.
Loss of accreditation would be especially hard on high school students, who may have a tougher time getting into a good college. Students who graduate from high schools in non-accredited systems are also not eligible for many scholarship programs.
When Clayton County schools lost accreditation a few years ago, many parents scrambled to get their children into private schools or public schools in neighboring counties.
Loss of accreditation would also be a blow to community pride and can lead to a drop in property values, which are closely tied to public perception of the quality of schools in an area.
SACS says the Atlanta school system must take 6 actions to avoid losing accreditation:
- Develop and implement a long-term plan to communication with and engage stakeholders in the work of the district and to regain the trust of parents and students.
- Secure and actively use the services of a trained, impartial mediator who will work with board members to resolve communication, operational and personal issues that are impeding the effectiveness of the governing body.
- Ensure that the actions and behavior of all board members are aligned with board policies, especially those related to ethics and chain of command.
- Review and refine policies to achieve the mission to educate students.
- Develop and implement a process for selecting a new superintendent that is transparent and engages public participation. The final choice of superintendent should be determined by more than a simple majority of the board.
- Work with the state of Georgia to address inconsistencies between the state charter for the school board and system policies.
Mark Elgart, the head of AdvancED, which oversees SACS, said the school board has until September to take steps to save the school system's accreditation.
"The high schools are still accredited and have a challenge before them, the opportunity and ability to proactively address these matters."