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DeKalb School Board members defend transparency

2:50 PM, Sep 11, 2012   |    comments
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- Three DeKalb County School Board members say they welcome recent scrutiny from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and won't meet privately to discuss it.

SACS accredits schools across the Southeast. Late last month, the agency sent DeKalb Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson a three-page letter addressing several "serious issues" in the system. Those include the ability to handle money and the general ability to function.

Last Wednesday, the school board met to address the letter, but decided to draft a response in private, which several parents criticized.

RELATED | Dekalb's effort at transparency raises questions about secrecy

"I'm frankly surprised a lot of this is going to go on behind closed doors, because part of the problem SACS is addressing is what goes on behind closed doors," said mom Molly Bardsley who attended Wednesday's board meeting.  

A letter posted Sunday by board members Nancy Jester
Don McChesney and Pam Speaksan on Jester's blog denies any secrecy.

"Wednesday's Board meeting was held in public and there will be no meeting of the Board regarding this matter in executive session," the board members' letter said. "State law only allows for meetings in executive session for a few, very specific reasons. The discussion of the letter from AdvancED/SACS is not a matter that can be discussed in executive session."

"The Board voted to formally acknowledge receipt of [SACS] letter. The Superintendent provided a memo to board members outlining a process to develop the District's response. The Board voted to accept her process as well," the board members explained. "After we receive the draft of the District's response, we will request a Board meeting to hear from our fellow Board members and vote to accept/reject the draft response. This meeting will be public and all Board members will have the opportunity to discuss the District's response letter."

Jester, McChesney and Speaksan said they've actually been whistleblowers on the school system's problems in the past.

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