Warren Co. schools to lose accreditation

The Warren County School System has received notice it will lose its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.

School Superintendent Carol Jean Carey was unavailable for an interview, but confirmed the news via telephone.

Jennifer Oliver, SACS vice president of communications, said a four-member team visited Warren County in June, 2009 to investigate complaints of the governance and leadership of the Warren County Board of Education.

Prior to their arrival in Warrenton, the team had requested and viewed copies of minutes and videos of the school board meetings.

The school system was put on probation as a result of that investigation, and given nine recommendations "to resolve and make significant progress on" by November, when another team would return for a follow-up visit.

"The team that visited them in November felt that they had not made significant progress, and in some cases, they made no progress," Ms. Oliver said. "So the team felt the school system should not retain their accreditation."

The date of the dropped accreditation is delayed until July 30, 2010, Ms. Oliver said, so that students set to graduate at the end of this school year will not be affected.

Ms. Oliver said accreditation is voluntary among schools and systems.

"What I can tell you is there are many, many great schools around the country that are non-accredited simply because they haven’t chosen to go through the process," she said. "In the state of Georgia, it’s slightly different because the Hope Scholarship is tied to students graduating form an accredited school. So, there’s more of an emphasis in Georgia for schools to be accredited."

Ms. Oliver said she doesn’t have a scientific break-down of numbers, but some colleges and universities require students to come from an accredited school, some use it as a criteria but not a requirement, and others don’t even have it listed in their application process at all.

"So, students just really need to assess where they want to attend college, because every one of them is different."

The accreditation is being removed from Warren County, not because of academic standards, but because the school board members failed to follow policies of the district, refused to sign the district’s ethics pledge, disregarded the requirement to use Roberts Rules of Order, failed to follow the district’s charter and micromanaged the school system.

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