WTOC Investigates: New details regarding SACS investigation against SCCPSS

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - We're learning new details about why the Southern Accreditation of Colleges and Schools, also known as SACS, is launching an investigation against the Savannah-Chatham County Public School District.

A lot of the blame is being put on the board - specifically, the board's president. An open records request revealed SACS is moving forward with an on-site investigation after vetting a complaint by reaching out to outgoing Superintendent, Dr. Lockamy. He backed up those claims in a letter with specific examples and details of the board's behavior.

"Just because an investigation is coming, doesn't mean you're going to lose accreditation," said Kurt Hetager, SCCPSS Spokesperson.

The Savannah-Chatham County Public School District is still accredited by SACS - the agency that validates your child's education - but that could potentially change pending the results of the investigation. SACS notified outgoing Superintendent Dr. Lockamy back in March after the agency received a complaint.

"What they are really looking at is effective governance between the board, board president, and the superintendent...superintendent and board president," Hetager said.

Dr. Lockamy responded to the allegation in a formal letter to SACS in late April. He didn't hold back, listing at least 18 examples in a four-page letter. Nearly each time, there was a reference to the board president with descriptions that included 'lack of leadership,' 'lack of ability,' 'failure to communicate,' and 'overstepping governance rule.'

"The agency has determined that there is enough that they really need to look a little closer at what is going on, and the relationship between the administration and the board," Hetager said.

SACS will now send a special review team to conduct an on-site investigation. To add to the pressure, the district has to foot the bill...more than $5,000 plus travel costs. However, investigators are waiting for the new superintendent to assume her new role before coming down.

"There are 38,125 young people who may not necessarily be concerned about the SACS investigation. They are concerned about their academics and that's my major charge. The SACS investigation will require some time from me and from the board, but it cannot consume me," said new Superintendent, Dr. Ann Levett, SCCPSS.

Despite whether or not students are concerned with the investigation, the outcome could impact every person in the school district.

"No one here wants to see any district here beyond probation or any result the impacts the accreditation of our schools. It's a very critical element to the operation of our school district," Hetager said.

There was another complaint filed to SACS against the board about a year ago, but no formal investigation came of it. It's still unclear when SACS investigators will be in town, but we're told it will likely be sometime this fall.

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