WTOC Investigates: School accreditation investigators in Savannah this week

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Investigators with the accrediting agency Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will be in Savannah this week interviewing school district officials.

This comes just eight months after the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System was notified that complaints had been filed accusing the board of violating accreditation standards.

Investigators will likely be in town for a couple of days conducting closed-door interviews. This is all part of an investigation to determine whether the district's accreditation should be reduced to a probationary or what they call an, "under review" status.

That's a dicey place to be because if that happens, they are one step away from losing their accreditation altogether which would impact everyone in the district if they aren't able to improve.

In March, SACS notified SCCPSS that complaints accused the board of not functioning in an effective manner.

The accrediting agency determined that an on-site investigation was necessary to determine whether the "governing body operates responsibly and functions effectively" and whether the "governing body ensures that the school leadership has the autonomy to meet goals for achievement and instruction and to manage day-to-day operations effectively."

And if we go back to 2004, when the school board was accused of violating similar accreditation policies. The findings of that SACS investigation led to a 14-month probation.

The district was finally cleared after the board participated in training sessions, updated policies and procedures and hired a consultant to strengthen relationships.

Thirteen years later, investigators will once again decide whether the district's accreditation status will change. Next week, a special review team - made up of trained professionals - will spend time meeting with district officials and reviewing information and evidence related to the alleged violations.

Regardless of the decision, this will all be at the expense of the school district which is responsible for all travel-related costs in addition to a $5,300 review fee.

Accreditation investigators are expected to arrive on Monday and could be here for few days. However, school district officials tell me they do not expect a decision to be made this week. In fact, we may not know anything until next year.

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