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Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 2:06pm

SACS Questions Policies of DeKalb Schools

A third Georgia school system may have accreditation problems with the agency that oversees the standards.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has ordered the DeKalb County school district to provide evidence of their compliance with its guidelines by Sept. 11. SACS will use that information to decide whether a full-scale investigation into the system's policies is necessary.

The DeKalb County school system and SACS say they're working together to make sure the district meets the accrediting agency's standards.

The district released a statement on Wednesday pledging its commitment to addressing SACS' concerns.

The national school group is questioning the system's hiring practices, training, conflict of interest, nepotism, procurement policies and search for a new superintendent.

SACS official Mark Elgart says the situation provides an opportunity to improve the DeKalb system.

DeKalb's interim superintendent, Ramona Tyson, has requested a review of the school system's 247 policies and has recommended a new ethics policy.

Accreditation is crucial for high school graduates, who can lose HOPE scholarship eligibility and be rejected from colleges.

Georgia has gained national attention in recent years over accreditation problems.

In 2008, school board dysfunction led Clayton County to become the first school system in the nation to lose its SACS accreditation in nearly 40 years.

Just last week, Governor Sonny Perdue removed three of the five members of east Georgia’s Warren County school board, citing ethical violations and actions that, according to the presiding judge, "threatened Warren County's SACS accreditation."

Warren County has also been struggling to keep its schools accredited. The accreditation was scheduled to end July 30, but SACS is allowing the system to maintain "probationary" status until the end of the year. The group extended the deadline so the school district could make additional improvements to meet their standards.