SACS puts DeKalb Co. Schools on probation - FOX 13 News

SACS puts DeKalb Co. Schools on probation

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The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) announced Monday that they're putting the DeKalb County school system on probation.  The news came as the accrediting agency released the findings of a six-month long investigation into the district.

SACS decided to take a look at the district's financial books after getting numerous complaints from parents, taxpayers, employees and even school board members.  SACS points to legal bills totaling $10 million above the budgeted amount, and utility costs that are far more than allotted.  

The accrediting agency says DeKalb will be expected to show progress in correcting the problems by next May, when monitors will visit the school district.

The president of SACS says that if specified changes aren't made by December 31, 2013, the district could face the loss of its accreditation.

DeKalb County Schools has cut more than 300 central office jobs and consolidated other positions to save money in light of the budget shortfall they face.  

DeKalb School Board Chairman Eugene Walker expressed disappointment but said they would address the problems raised by SACS.

"It's somewhat disappointing, but we respect SACS and we are going to work as diligently as we can with them to do whatever they think is necessary for us to get out of it," Walker said.

Byron Merritt, a PTSA leader at Southwest DeKalb High School, said he was deeply concerned.

"We have been sitting on the sidelines leaving it to the ‘experts' to run the schools, to manage it and the results we are seeing are not what we want," Merritt.

Under new state law, the state school board is to hold a hearing on the SACS report and could make recommendations to the governor including removal of school board members. That hearing will take place within 30 days.

DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said in a statement, "As CEO of DeKalb County, I am greatly concerned about the potential impact of this decision by SACS on DeKalb County as a whole, and will continue to monitor the situation and to work with the BOE and the Superintendent to address these concerns."

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