Atlanta School Board members get reprieve

3:08 PM, Jul 26, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Atlanta Public School board members will get to keep their jobs, but are now on probation by the state attorney general's office.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Board of Education signed a consent order with the Atlanta school system that will delay any state sanctions against city school board members until at least November. 

The move comes after notification on Monday night by the state attorney general's office has put APS on probation for violating Georgia's open meetings and public records laws.

Monday night's move follows complaints about the way the board and former superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall operated.

The Tuesday hearing before the state board of education is in the wake of Senate Bill 79, which gives the governor the power to remove local school board members whose districts have been put on probation because of board governance shortcomings and have failed to get their accreditation restored. 

Since the law was enacted last spring, former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall, caught up in a test cheating scandal, has retired and former state University System Chancellor Erroll Davis has taken the reins at APS vowing reforms.

Also, former Atlanta school board Chairman Khaatim Sherrer El has resigned to take a job out of state, easing some of the tensions that had erupted between two factions on the board.

In the consent order accepted unanimously by the state board, APS school board members pledged to make the same series of improvements demanded by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) when it put APS on probation last January, a move that threatens the school system's accreditation.

"Under these circumstances, with the dire need for leadership and support of the corrective action plan put forth by [Interim] Superintendent Erroll Davis, the state board agrees to suspend the July 26, 2011, hearing and do agree to reconvene the hearing at its discretion no later than Nov. 4, 2011," state Board of Education Chairman Wanda Barrs wrote in a prepared statement."

The law called for the state board to hold a hearing within 30 days of July 1 and make recommendations to the governor on whether board members should be suspended with pay.

The governor then would have the right to remove offending board members, subject to appeal.

(Atlanta Business Chronicle)

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