While only indirectly related to Georgia or bankruptcy, it appears another county school system is going down the same road as Clayton County, Georgia. The Burke County Board of Education in neighboring North Carolina has received a notice from Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI) (based in Decatur, GA) that its accreditation is at risk.
From the Morganton News Herald –
The letter signed by Dr. Donna James, SACS CASI’s North Carolina director, said the organization received complaints about five incidents that may violate accreditation standards. All involve the Burke County Board of Education; two specifically name board member Rob Hairfield for sending racist e-mail and for making remarks, including "shoot to kill," during a November board meeting…
Fellow board member Sam Wilkinson, who remembers intense SACS CASI evaluations during his career as a teacher, said the situation is "very serious."
Wilkinson and Armour have strongly opposed the other board members’ refusal to allow public comments before and since the board’s decision to terminate Superintendent David Burleson’s contract effective June 30. Wilkinson also made the motion at the board’s Monday meeting to invoke the First Amendment. The board voted it down, 2-4.
SACS CASI included the limits on public comments as one of its concerns.
Another complaint involves Board Chair Tracy Norman, though it does not name her. At the same November meeting when 38 students wanted to comment on proposed board policies about supplementary reading material, Norman suggested tracing e-mails to learn whether teachers helped organize the students’ protest.
SACS CASI classifies its standards into seven areas of school operations and management. The letter cites possible violations in four of the seven: Vision and Purpose, Governance and Leadership, Stakesholders Communications and Relationships and Commitment to Continuous Improvement.
Click here to review the entire letter from SACS.
The entire fiasco apparently started when the Burke County School Board decided to terminate the contract of popular superintendent David Burleson. Click here for all of the articles in the News Herald. The public has responded to the rogue Board with promises of being kicked out in the next election, Facebook pages, and the usual talk of recall and removal.
Clayton County residents can expect plummeting home values as parents (or anyone who might be a parent in the next few years) move out of the county so their kids get in college and they are eligible for the Hope Scholarship. Home buyers with school-age kids, or who may have school age kids in the future (i.e, most younger couples) will avoid the county like the plague. The housing market in Clayton County will be a disaster, and the tax base will decrease dramatically. Refinancing will not be possible because the equity in homes will simply disappear. Companies and industries considering Clayton County will immediately strike them off of their list because employees will not want to move there. Some businesses will move, or perhaps even close, because of a decrease in business and an inability to keep qualified employees.
According to a realtor association official …
"All the board members need to resign. We need to have a special election and start over with qualified candidates," said David Barton, Vice President of the Metro South Association of Realtors. He said that during the last four years of turmoil in the Clayton County schools, property owners in the county have lost a half billion dollars in value.
The snowball effect for a county which loses its accreditation can be severe. New businesses will not consider the area. Parents of high school students will have to look at expensive private schools or moving out of the county to make sure the kids get in college. Even if Burke County finds a competent Superintendent, would he/she take a job when it appears certain that the Board will be replaced in the new election? Will they have to hire a replacement who was deemed "unqualified" by state educational and accreditation officials, as Clayton County did in hiring John Thompson (who was fired in March)?
Perhaps Burke County will hire Thompson, since they need a Superintendent and he finds himself unemployed? As it turns out, the Burke County School Board has retained attorney Richard Schwartz to represent it in potential litigation by Burleson and in other matters. Schwartz, it seems, was the personal attorney of John Thompson and negotiated his contract with Clayton County. Schwartz then conveniently became the lawyer for the Clayton County Board in dealing with the accreditation issue. We all know how that turned out.