Last year, the Clayton County School District became the first school district to lose accreditation in 40 years. One of the main reasons the district lost its accreditation was due to the dysfunctional school board that was in place. Like other districts, board members are elected by community members. Other problems included member in-fighting and accusations that some board members did not legally reside within the district; therefore, making them ineligible to serve. Governor Purdue even issued an executive order to remove four board members. The loss of accreditation almost jeopardized HOPE Scholarship eligibility for graduating seniors, but the governor made special provisions to ensure that did not happen.
As part of its two-year probation, Clayton County must undergo a review every six months which includes site visits and interviews with parents and teachers. The district also hired a new superintendent for the 2009-10 school year, replacing John Thompson who was hired to ‘restructure’ the district. The results of the most recent review were favorable. The district has made some improvements; however, the board must continue to receive training and SACS noted concerns about the district operating with a deficit but did not list specifics.
Despite the drama created by the school board members’ behavior, the students and faculty of Clayton County have made some notable improvements during the past 2 years. For the 2007-08 school year, only 69.5% of schools made AYP. That number was up to 81.7% for 2008-09. During both years the district met the AYP requirements for attendance and the graduation rate, with the averages increasing from 76.5% to 79.7% district-wide. If the students continue to perform at those rates, we can expect to see at least 90% of Clayton’s schools make AYP and the average graduate rate reach 82% at the end of the current school year.
Hats off to the students and teachers of Clayton County who have managed to stay focused and perform despite the antics and politics of those who obviously placed their own agendas before your educational needs.