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DeKalb School Board heading for Chattahoochee Hills to work on issues raised in Cognia report

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DeKalb School Board heading for Chattahoochee Hills to work on issues raised in Cognia report

DeKalb County Board of Education members pose for a photo during DeKalb County Board of Education’s Oath of Office Ceremony at the Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex in Stone Mountain on Friday Jan. 6, 2023. (Left-Right) Vickie Turner (Dist. 5,) Whitney McGinniss (Dist. 2,) Diijon DaCosta, Sr. (Dist. 6,) Allyson Gevertz (Dist. 4,) Deirdre Pierce (Dist. 3) and Anna Hill (Dist. 1.) Dr. Joyce Morley, not shown represents Dist. 7. Photo by Dean Hesse.

DeKalb County, GA — The DeKalb County School Board is heading to The Inn at Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills for a two-day retreat to address issues raised by Cognia, a nonprofit accreditation organization.

The first day of the two-day retreat, Feb. 21, will be open to the public. The second day, Feb. 22, will be a closed-door executive session, according to the agenda. The school board isn’t expected to take any action on Feb. 22. The Inn at Serenbe is about a 50-minute drive from the school board’s offices in DeKalb County.

To see the agenda, click here.

Decaturish plans to attend the first day of the retreat. The school board has hired a mediator, Clara Axam with Clarification and Mediation Inc., to help the school board work through the issues identified in the Cognia report.

A recent Cognia report found the DeKalb County School Board is still a dysfunctional body pursuing individual interests instead of working for the district as a whole. Cognia produced the report after a follow-up visit with DeKalb County Schools after a previous report that found the board was not working collaboratively.

To read the most recent Cognia report, click here.

Decaturish first wrote about the Cognia observations in April. The report about DeKalb County Schools then was mostly favorable and said the district often, “Demonstrates noteworthy practices producing clear results that positively impact the institution.” But the report included some low-key criticisms of the board.

One of the few areas where Cognia found the district to be lacking involved the school board.

The report released in April said, “Each governing authority board member is highly committed to the district and the students, but board members are not working together collectively in support of the mission of DeKalb County Schools.”

Cognia conducted a follow-up visit in November, a review that included interviews with board members and the unenviable task of watching more than 20 hours of board meetings.

The follow-up report, which the district released on Friday, Jan. 20, is more explicit in its criticisms of the school board.

The accrediting body didn’t see any real progress toward improving how the board functions, the report released on Friday says.

“After a thorough review of artifacts, conversations with all current board members, and interviews with 21 administrators, several central office administrators, the Georgia Department of Education Advisor, and the interim superintendent, the Monitoring Review Team has determined that little progress has been made with respect to Cognia Performance Standard 1.5,” the report says, citing the standard the board got dinged on in the initial accreditation review last year.

The report notes that DeKalb Schools has been churning through superintendents since 2013.

“The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has experienced a steady and consistent change in leadership since 2013,” the report says. “Since that time, there have been six superintendents with two of them being interim and two being terminated by the board.”

The board still prefers the pursuit of narrow interests instead of looking at the needs of the entire district, the report found.

For more information about that report, click here.

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