Town Hall Meeting on School Probation - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/14/04

Town Hall Meeting on School Probation

A town hall meeting is being held at Savannah High School to discuss what needs to be done to keep Chatham County schools from losing their accreditation. This comes on the heels of an investigation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS.

The investigation found at least three school board members illegally interfering with district operations. Many school officials are worried parents aren't really getting involved with what's going on and they need to before it's to late.

If you have a child who's a junior in high school, he or she could become part of the first class to graduate from Chatham County schools with invalid diplomas.

"I was a little disheartened yesterday to hear one of our board members refer to the report as petty and to the information in the report as petty," said Gary Lackey, principal at Johnson High School. "It does concern me."

The SACS report clearly stated three board members risk losing accreditation for all schools in Chatham County. Principal Lackey says this abuse has gone on long enough and he's not about to see his students lose out on their college education.

"Maybe the board kids, maybe they can afford to send their kids to college, but a lot of my students here depend on the HOPE and they work very hard for it," Lackey said. "We lose accreditation, we lose the HOPE scholarship. That's not petty, that is not petty."

Now school officials want parents along and community members to make sure these board members walk the straight and narrow because in the end, it's the students who will suffer.

"You need to get involved in this now and not wait 12 months form now, because once it's done, it's going to be very tough on our kids," Lackey said.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will make its final decision on probation on October 25, but from what some school officials are saying, it does not look good. As for which three board members brought about this investigation, the report doesn't say.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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