Accreditation review team will visit Wake schools in January
Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/MahurinPointing_Thumb3.jpgAn accreditation agency looking into the Wake County School System after turmoil over how students are assigned to schools will visit on Jan. 12-14, the agency said Wednesday.
The team from Advancing Excellence in Education Worldwide, or AdvancED, will interview school board members, school officials, teachers and community members to determine whether the school system is following its own rules and regulations, said Jennifer Oliver, AdvancED’s vice president for communications.
The agency launched a special review of Wake County’s public high schools after receiving complaints from the North Carolina NAACP and individuals about the behavior of the five-member majority on the school board. The complaints said the majority had discarded a policy of weighing diversity in school assignments without regard to public opinion and in violation of the board’s standards and procedures. Opponents of the change say it will lead to high concentrations of low income and minority students in some high schools.
Yevonne Brannon, the head of Great Schools in Wake, a community group that favors weighing diversity in school assignments, welcomed a review of the school board’s actions.
“We’ve had bad behavior and unprofessional conduct,” she said. “We’ve seen policies broken and teachers saying they are under pressure not to speak out. I think it’s time for another organization to look in and make some comments about how we’re running our school system.”
Oliver said her agency’s review will not be about the assignment policy itself, but will focus instead on how well the system meets national standards for accreditation and whether it is following its own policies.
Areas under review will include whether school officials and the school board conduct research before changing policy and whether the board is open and responsive to community opinions about how the schools are run.
The team will consist of five or six people with backgrounds in education, including a school superintendent and a school board member, Oliver said. The school system will receive a report of recommendations and required actions about 30 to 45 days after the visit, she said.
“Generally, the team will leave the school system with some required actions,” Oliver said.
How long the school system will have to respond depends on how complicated or extensive the recommendations are, Oliver said, but the entire process should be complete with six to nine months.
AdvancED’s accreditation covers only the school system’s high schools. Accreditation helps ensure that students qualify for scholarships, that their academic credits are transferable and a school is eligible for grants.
AdvancED, accredits more than 27,000 schools worldwide, but dispatched out only seven special review teams in the past year, Oliver said. The agency withdrew its accreditation of a Georgia school system last year, but Oliver said that was the first such action in 40 years.