The removal of accreditation probation from APS high schools was welcome news in Buckhead Tuesday afternoon.
District 4 school board member Nancy Meister cited the school board’s hard work in meeting six conditions laid down last January by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools when it put the school system on probation and said “we’re really thrilled” at the news. She promised that the board will “continue our momentum” and said that the announcement will benefit all the city’s high schools, including Buckhead’s .
North Atllanta Principal Mark MyGrant said he was “thrilled to hear the good news, and I believe it’s a direct result of the leadership provided by the board chair Brenda Muhammad and our Superintendent Erroll Davis that resulted in our progress."
MyGrant also praised Meister, who represents Buckhead on the school board. “I’m particularly proud of our district board member, Nancy Meister, and the leadership that she provided,” he said. ”She took over at a really difficult time and I’m really grateful for her work and know it was a real challenge.”
North Atlanta’s students and parents will welcome the news, he said. “It’s going to be business as usual at North Atlanta High without having that shadow cast over us,” he said. “I think there was anxiety of having a diploma from an accredited institution, and this will alleviate that and allow us to focus on having a great senior year.”
Now, the students will have “unlimited possibilties” to concentrate on acquiring scholarships and applying to colleges, he said.
Meister said she’s not surprised that AdvancED placed the school system on probation “advisement” until September 2012. The action means that SACS and AdvancED want to make sure the board continues its communications improvements and ethics reforms, she said “It’s not a big shock; it was expected,” she said.
In response to whether the action will help passage of the APS’ SPLOST IV election on Nov. 8, she said wryly, “it can’t hurt.” She said she hopes the voters “do their homework on SPLOST” and vote for the necessary renovation of school facilities. “”That’s the next thing as far as the next five years,” she said
Buckhead parent Julie Salisbury welcomed the removal of APS’ accreditation probation, but warned against complacency.
“We’re very happy with this decision,” said Salisbury, who has two children at and was one of the founders of Step Up Or Step Down organization, which has been monitoring the school board’s progress since January.
Salisbury said she plans on telling friends and neighbors in Buckhead, “we need to maintain the momentum.” She continued, “ This is not a time to be complacent; this is a time to focus on what we collectively build together.”
She said she hopes the announcement will boost the chances for the SPLOST’s passage.
“Instead of focusing on problems, I would hope that this would be a vote of confidence that people will take to the polls on Nov. 8 when they hopefully vote to approve the SPLOST.”
Step Up and Step Down issued a statement in response to the SACS action. Here is the group’s response:
"Step Up or Step Down is pleased that APS high schools are now off probation. We have been proud to stand beside other community members and behind the APS board as they worked together to achieve the six action steps laid out by SACS.
"We have attended every board meeting since January and watched as the board made great strides. They worked swiftly and wisely to hire Erroll Davis, and worked effectively and collaboratively to navigate the many tough issues raised through the cheating scandal investigation report.
"Step Up or Step Down hopes this decision from SACS represents an opportunity for the board to move beyond the necessary repair of our schools, and begin to effectively build a brighter future for all of our children. With the advisement status from SACS, it's clear that all audiences recognize the need for continuous improvement and ongoing responsible governance of our schools.
"We call for the broader community of public education stakeholders to continue pushing for a heightened sense of awareness and responsibility at the board level, within the district office, inside individual schools and throughout surrounding neighborhoods."