Chatham County Schools on Probation - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/25/04

Chatham County Schools on Probation

BOE president Hugh Golson. BOE president Hugh Golson.

It's official: the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed all Chatham County public schools on probation, giving school board members one year to get it together. If not, the entire school district could lose its accreditation.

We spoke with with certain board members, and they say they're going to have to make sure they follow all the rules recommended by SACS and make sure they keep their fellow board members in check. All it takes is one mistake to lose accreditation.

"That's what we need to move towards, governance policy, where we as the leaders of the district frame only policy and keep our hands off the school sites," said school board president Hugh Golson.

Board members will be holding workshops and hiring consultants for advice on how to govern the schools instead of trying to manage them. They say parents have nothing to worry about.

"I want to give parents the assurance that we're going to do everything possible, that we will not lose our accreditation," said Golson. "We are absolutely all firm in belief that we will not lose our accreditation and we will do whatever is necessary."

There's no rule that says SACS is going to be checking up on board members to see if they're doing their jobs, but from what we were told, they do have a year to clean up their act before further steps are taken.

According to SACS officials and school board member Dr. David Lurch, accountability is up to parents and school principals, and whether SACS gets any more complaints will decide whether Chatham County schools will lose their accreditation.

"So they'll send up a letter at the end of the school year and say we are in compliance, therefore we are taken off probation, or we're out of compliance and have not made appropriate steps, and therefore they're going to remove themselves from certifying our schools or they can continue keeping us on probation," explained Dr. Lurch. 

We did speak with SACS officials and they told us they will send a review team back here to reevaluate the school board around this time next year, when the probation is up. Of course we will let you know of any changes.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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