DeKalb Schools placed on probation

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. - The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has placed the DeKalb County School District on probation, citing evidence of serious mismanagement within the school board.

Channel 2’s Richard Belcher was at a Monday news conference in Alpharetta, where SACS president Mark Elgart made the announcement around noon. It was the result of a months-long investigation into the district, but Elgart said the problems began years ago.

“The current condition of this school system can be classified as in conflict and chaos,” Elgart said. “It didn’t happen overnight. It happened over 10 years.”

He said over the last decade, the district has shown “ineffective government, a decline in student performance and a depletion of financial resources.” He said although board members did not create the problem, they are entrenched in a culture of division.

“There remains today a system that is divided along lines of race, socio-economic levels and geography. Such divisions are continuing to paralyze this system’s need to address the needs of all students,” he said.

Elgart said the investigation has turned up millions of dollars of misplaced funds, evidence of nepotism in hiring practices and interference with student assignments, among other allegations. He added that board members regularly meddle with duties that should be covered by the school staff.

"This is not a governing body. What it is, is nine individuals who have political interests, who are focused on insuring those political interests are managed by the staff in accordance with their requests," Elgart said.

Meanwhile, Elgart said, DeKalb students lack adequate textbooks, and schools in the district are “woefully behind technologies that have become commonplace in most schools.”

Elgart said if the situation worsens within the next few months, “This system may have trouble closing the school year at the time designated.” The probationary status will be reevaluated at the end of next year, at which point, the district may regain full standing or have its accreditation revoked.