The decision on whether the Liberty County school board will be suspended and removed now lies with the State Department of Education and Governor Nathan Deal.
As required by state law, Liberty County School System has notified the state that AdvancED placed the system under review due to the school board’s behavior. The accreditation agency notified the local board Tuesday that the system’s accreditation was one step from being suspended pending another investigation in the fall.
The law requires a system or school placed on the level of accreditation immediately preceding loss of accreditation for how its school board has operated to notify the state department.
The State Board of Education then has 10-30 days to conduct a hearing into the matter and then recommend to the governor whether to suspend local board members with pay.
If the state board recommends removal, Deal, may, at his discretion, suspend all members of the local board and appoint temporary replacements.
The law was passed after Clayton County became the first school district in Georgia to lose accreditation, primarily due to board governance in 2008.
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry said the district immediately complied with the law. He noted the school remains accredited and issued a statement saying the board takes the matter seriously.
“It is important to understand that the Liberty County School System is fully accredited,” Perry said in the statement. “Being under review has no effect on the district’s accreditation status.”
The statement continued that prior to receiving the report, board members began addressing the improvement priorities related to their roles and responsibilities.
Perry wrote, “The board is committed to working diligently to adhere to the directives before the onsite monitoring review, which will take place on or before Oct. 31. I want to assure FATE from 1
all stakeholders that the district is focused and continues to be committed to improving student learning.”
Perry thanked teachers and administrators, “for preparing students for excellence each day.”
Graylan Quarterman, president of the NAACP Liberty Branch, said he found the AdvancED report disturbing.
“AdvancED has identified the dysfunctional part of our board and has indicated that board members cannot function independently of each other. That they must be a unit,” he said. “We are now at the point where the governor is going to have to address the entire board. One thing that I read in the AdvancED report was that the board was criticized for publicly discrediting the former superintendent, Dr. Valya Lee. I would like to ask the public to educate themselves as to what is going on in the system and read the AdvancED report for themselves.”
He said the behavior of the board is overshadowing efforts by staff and students, as well as all their accomplishments.
At a May 4 meeting, Perry and chief academic officer Patti Crane highlighted areas where the LCSS met some 2015-2020 strategic plan goals.
Crane said the district met goals to increase student learning, achievement, and college and career readiness. She said they used a mentoring program to help train new teachers and had weekly meetings to increase collaboration among teachers. They added a program for the Division of Exceptional Learning to assist students in reading and math. That department also worked with the Instructional Technology staff to improve support. They implemented Go To meetings standardize information from the district to the schools on professional learning. They established high school courses in the middle school and expanded STEM/STEAM opportunities.
She said the district met safe and secure environment goals by placing access controls at all the schools. They’ve held drills regularly and changed a parent information system. The district implemented a positive behavior system at all sites. Overall attendance measured an improvement and overall office referrals and in school suspensions decreased.
Crane reported that the district has improved several methods to recruit and retain staff. They’ve also increased stakeholders’ investment and improved effectiveness and efficiency of district operations and administrative services.
She noted that despite austerity reductions, the district has maintained an adequate fund balance without increasing the millage rate.
“Our school system is in good shape because we have a strong superintendent through this process,” he said. “He is able to serve as buffer between a dysfunctional board and working district.”