The Liberty County School System’s AdvancED accreditation status is now under review after the agency filed its report of an investigation done Jan. 29-31.
The report was sent to the LCSS on Tuesday.
Being placed “under review” is one step from losing accreditation, according to AdvancED.
Representatives from AdvancED reviewed items posted on social media, watched board meeting videos, read newspaper articles that addressed board issues and read letters of complaint from board members.
The representatives of AdvancED also conducted one-on-one interviews with board members during a January visit.
The 17-page report detailed multiple violations by board members on policies, code of ethics, conflict of interests and use of school facilities. The report also noted that the board repeatedly violated the Open Meetings Act.
According to the report, board members do not agree on the effectiveness of their communication and involvement of stakeholders.
They also don’t agree on the current culture of the board, which directly violates several areas of the Georgia School Board Association’s Governance Team Self-assessment.
Examples of dysfunction cited by AdvancED included a text message exchange between board members in which one board member replied to the texts with a middle finger emoji.
The report also revealed that AdvancED found a board member had improper access and use of a school gymnasium without following required procedures as outlined in the system’s policy, an apparent reference to Marcus Scott IV, who runs a basketball and academic mentoring program.
The report did not name board members, but the member did not file the required application form and did not pay any money associated with the use of the facility, which violated several policies.
A formal complaint regarding the actions of the board member was filed with the State Board of Education, the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and School Boards Association and the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. The report claims board members attempted to micromanage the superintendent and violated parliamentary procedures. It said interviews and documents showed that during the Jan. 9 regular school board meeting, the 2018-19 school calendar was removed from the agenda. Multiple interviews revealed that a board member stated the “calendar did not have enough votes to pass,” a indication that some board members discussed their potential vote in advance.
Interviews revealed four board members, which is a quorum, were meeting in private prior to the regular board meeting. When the board members were asked about this action, respondents indicated they were having a meal. This violates board policy as well as a violation of the Georgia Open Meetings Act. Emails and text messages may have also violated of the act.
The report did offer some positives, including that district staffers continue to “move the district forward in spite of the board’s behavior.”
It also praised Dr. Franklin Perry, the new superintendent, as a steadying presence. It also said there is immense stakeholder pride regarding student achievement, staff commitment, and the financial stability of the system, resources and community support.
Perry issued a statement on behalf of the LCSS which read, “The district and governing board will aggressively focus on each improvement priority listed in the report and will actively work on corrective actions prior to an onsite monitoring review which will take place on or before October 31, 2018. The district is stable, focused, and continues to be committed to improving student learning.”