A team of investigators is in Sumter County this week reviewing the school board’s accreditation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the board on probation last year amid allegations of power struggles and state policy violations.
The Sumter County School Board agreed in 2010 to shrink from nine members to seven. But after receiving legislative approval, some board members changed their minds and refused to step down. Operating with two extra people puts them in violation of state law.
The school board has had a year to address the concerns. The SACS team will be reviewing records through Wednesday.
The SACS review team will then have about a month to recommend whether to lift the probation. The accreditation system has four levels. The best level is to be accredited. The next lower level is to be advised of accreditation issues. The next lower level is to be warned and the bottom level is to be on probation.
The probation does not impact the district’s students since it is aimed at the school board. High school seniors are still eligible to attend out of state colleges.
Meanwhile, hearings to remove members of the school board are on hold. Six Sumter County school board members filed suit challenging the law allowing the Governor to remove school board members. Sumter was in the midst of hearings in front of the state Board of Education when the board members asked a judge to stop the proceedings. The judge agreed. Representing the state board of education, the state attorney general’s office has asked the court to dismiss the Sumter suit, but a hearing has yet to be scheduled on the motion.