By KATE BRUMBACK (Associated Press)
An educational standards agency said Jan. 18 it has placed Atlanta Public Schools on probation and given the system nine months to make improvements or risk losing accreditation for its high schools. Losing that standing could diminish grant money and make it harder for graduates to get into college. The system’s board has failed to meet standards on governance and leadership set by accrediting agency AdvancED, said its President and CEO Mark Elgart. “The reason for probation is the issues are serious,” Elgart said at a news conference in Alpharetta, where the agency has a corporate office. “They not only affect the effective governance of the board but they affect the future direction of the school system and its ability to provide a quality education for all students.”
Board Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El said the district is taking the report very seriously and will address all of the concerns in a transparent manner. “I want to make this absolutely clear, retention of our accreditation is a top priority for this board and administration because the academic standing and reputation of the district is at stake,” he said. Losing accreditation could put the 50,000-student district in danger of losing private grants and could keep students from gaining admission and winning scholarships at some colleges.
The agency’s move is relatively rare. Of the roughly 5,000 districts nationwide that AdvancED has accredited, only eight are currently on probation, said spokeswoman Jennifer Oliver.