Alternative to SACS Accreditation for Chatham County Schools? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/16/04

Alternative to SACS Accreditation for Chatham County Schools?

Some Savannah-Chatham County school board members are talking about cutting ties with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS. It's the agency that accredits thousands of schools in the Southeast, including Chatham County's, which it recently placed on probation.

SACS accredits many big-name schools like Duke University and the University of Georgia, and according to some parents, getting rid of SACS for Chatham County schools is like committing scholastic suicide.

School board members have the power to turn things around, but parents like Roger Allen fear certain board members have other alternatives. "I can't see anything positive from removing ourselves from SACS accreditation other than giving board members a complete and free hand," he said.

This father of three also says free rein to operate outside the strict guidelines of SACS is exactly what some board members would do if Chatham County schools lose their accreditation. Over the phone, board member SuSu Cox told WTOC she had investigated other accreditation agencies just in case.

For Allen other agencies shouldn't be their focus. "If our board members withdraw from SACS accreditation, our students, even if they stayed in colleges in the State of Georgia, would be very unlikely to qualify for Pell grants and HOPE scholarship or even unlikely be accepted at those schools."

After speaking with school board president Hugh Golson, this isn't likely to happen even though this has to be an issue voted on by the board, where majority does rule. "My leadership says this is not an alternative," Golson told us. "I hear from our partners in higher education SACS is an important accreditation we should maintain."

But Allen says maintaining accreditation with SACS is the last thing on some board members' minds. "They're ruining our system. They're destroying our children's futures, our children are our future, they're our hopes and our dreams."

District 1 board member Cox is holding a town hall meeting this Thursday night for concerned parents: Thursday, 11/18, Heard Elementary, 6:30pm.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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