SACS Investigation Recommends Probation for Savannah-Chatham Schools

The board meeting today.
The board meeting today.

Members of the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education have been under investigation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), accused of operating outside policy, putting all public schools in the county at risk.

"I think the investigation process is confusing and biased," said board member SuSu Cox. "I think the findings were on petty issues, but that's apparently what SACS does now."

Today, the results of the investigation were announced. SACS investigators found at least three board members in clear violation of SACS standards. Charges of interfering in school operations include seeking special consideration for children of friends and acquaintances, directing school administrators to make changes in instructional programs, and pushing for particular vendors in contract bidding.

They're accusations board members say they've never heard of. "Most of those I really don't know anything about because they've never been communicated to me as a board member," said Cox.

Now the board will have to work to keep SACS from putting all Savannah-Chatham County Schools in the status of probation for the 2004-2005 school year. If SACS were to place the schools on probation and find any further violations during the probation period, the schools could lose their accreditation.

If that happens, students who graduate would not receive valid diplomas, be eligible for the HOPE scholarship, or be accepted into most colleges or universities.

Board members say they're not worried. "Am I worried about it? Not really, but I just think we have to continue functioning and make sure our schools maintain the standards that we're hoping they maintain," said Cox.

SACS will continue to review its findings as well as discuss the recommendations it made to the board at its next meeting, which will be held on October 25 to make a final decision regarding probation.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen,