Wake County Schools

Wake schools keep accreditation, despite leadership concerns

Posted March 16, 2011

Wake County Public School System

— Accreditation agency AdvancED released a report on Wake County high schools Wednesday, placing them on "accredited warned" status due to a lack of effective governance and leadership.

According to the report, the actions of the Wake County Board of Education have created "a climate of uncertainty, suspicion and mistrust throughout the community" over the past 14 months. The report specifically cites the 2009 elections of board members John Tedesco, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman and Deborah Prickett as the beginning of a "period of instability."

The report states that Wake high schools do not meet AdvancED's governance and leadership standards, in part because four board members joined with Chairman Ron Margiotta to launch a "premeditated attack that resulted in destabilizing the school system and community."

Regarding student achievement, the review team met with school system staff who supplied data showing "positive gains in student achievement," the report states. But in interviews, some board members claimed to have their "own data" that showed the opposite trend.

"This lack of alignment between staff and board has led to ineffective policy decisions," the report states.

AdvancED, an Atlanta-based company, outlined seven action steps required to ensure the school district retains its accreditation when the agency reviews its status in November. The steps include developing a strategic plan, analyzing and revising the "node" system of assigning students, providing ongoing training for school board members and implementing a policy review process.

The results of the review were presented Wednesday morning to Margiotta, Goldman and Superintendent Tony Tata.

tata responds Tata responds to AdvancED report

Tata said he welcomed the input and intended to "aggressively implement" the agency's recommendations.

"We have some issues that we've got to resolve and as a learning organization, we're going to get after those issues," Tata said. "We've got a strategic plan that we're developing and the vision, the mission and the core beliefs are all part of that strategic planning exercise."

Tata said he wasn't surprised by the review team's findings, but was happy that high schools will remain accredited.

"(Students) are going to have high school diplomas that are fully accredited and their applications for college are going to be equally competitive with everybody else, so I'm very satisfied that we've got the accreditation in standing," Tata said.

Board members have said that accreditation from AdvancED might be unnecessary and Tedesco said there are other agencies that might be a better fit for Wake schools. He called AdvancED "a totalitarian monopoly from Atlanta."

On Tuesday, North Carolina lawmakers introduced a bill in the House that would prohibit universities in the UNC system from considering a high school's accreditation status, unless accreditation was done by the state. 

The special review team from AdvancED met with Tata, all board members, 12 high school principals and 78 stakeholders, including parents, students, teachers and community members, in February. The review team planned to visit in October, the report states, but "system leadership resisted scheduling the visit." 

In letter and e-mail exchanges between AdvancED and school board attorney Ann Majestic, Majestic called the review process “fundamentally unfair” and asked that the review team limit the scope of its review to issues not subject to an investigation by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and to allow legal counsel to be present and able to represent the interests of the board.

AdvancED CEO Mark Elgart responded that "Wake County leadership continues to take action that is confrontational."

“I seriously doubt the school system can benefit from the accreditation process with this attitude and approach," he wrote.

Kristen Stocking, who said she supports the new school board, was one of the stakeholders interviewed by AdvancED in February.

"I think the tone of the report is somewhat scathing toward the new majority," she said. "They pretty much came in with an agenda."

The special accreditation review was launched after the North Carolina NAACP, which fears the board's neighborhood schools assignment policy will segregate schools, filed a complaint in March with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, a subdivision of AdvancED, and the Office for Civil Rights.

149 Comments

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  • lb27608 Mar 17, 2:05 p.m.

    "According to NCSSM they are accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)as the 17th constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. They are not accredited as a high school by AdvancED."

    As the PDF document you linked clearly states, NCSSM is accredited by AdvanceED. It is considered a "special purpose school" - it is not a high school, per se, since it only enrolls juniors and seniors. The school was accredited long before it joined the UNC system in 2007:

    http://www.advanc-ed.org/oasis2/u/par/accreditation/summary?institutionId=11653

  • blackdog Mar 17, 1:55 p.m.

    ""Not having a comprehensive plan...with supporting data, is evidence of lack of professionalism."-blackdog

    Well said. You seem to be rather forgiving of the previous school board. If you actually care about processes and planning, you'd hate them as much as you do the current group."
    Not_So_Dumb

    I don't "Hate" the new board . They are simply UNQAULIFIED. If I wanted to change the entire school system methodology, I would have data to support such a plan, a plan, supporting data, a budget, and support from the accreditating agencies. No. This was simply a politically supported agenda to privatize education, with tax payer financing. It was an investment by Art Pope and his like minded buisness people in the right wing.

  • brassy Mar 17, 1:27 p.m.

    AdvancED needs a vocabulary lesson!

    accredit "to recognize (an educational institution) as maintaining standards that qualify the graduates for admission to higher or more specialized institutions or for professional practice"

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accreditation

  • westernwake1 Mar 17, 1:25 p.m.

    @tb4unc "NCSSM is accredited by AdvanceED"

    According to NCSSM they are accredited by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools)as the 17th constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. They are not accredited as a high school by AdvancED.

    SACS is owned by AdvancED since the merger which leads to the confusion. And now AdvancED is trying to put their branding on all of the SACS university accreditations.

    http://www.ncssm.edu/admissions/docs/Profile%202010-2011_web.pdf

  • handbasket Mar 17, 1:22 p.m.

    Who cares about AdvancED? Who cares? The reason this past year has been "confrontational" is because the dear Rev. & friends don't like the majority of us voting. Elections are irrelevant to National Assoc. of Always Complaining People!

  • bakerdl Mar 17, 12:53 p.m.

    This is the worst political coup d'etat by a political entity since the Democrats killed all the Republicans in the Race riot of Wilmington 1898, and took over the NC government by force of firearms for the next 125 years. It is a shame that an election of the people, by the people, and for the people means nothing to these control freak agenda laced KoolAid drinking people!

  • bakerdl Mar 17, 12:49 p.m.

    The transition from an accrediting agency, to a left leaning slum lord of a Marxist activist agenda could hardly be more in your face than this strong armed t h u * g i n g shake down exercise. Wake county voters chose to make this change consciously, and to be mugged by a bunch of liberal zealots threatening the accreditation status of Wake county schools has made the whole process of accreditation meaningless. I for one have zero respect now for the process in general, it's a ridiculous exercise in political correctness and subterfuge by the underhanded control freaks of the wacky liberal left. America is returning you to sender, a little at a time.

  • Not_So_Dumb Mar 17, 11:54 a.m.

    "What I'm desperately trying to get people to think about is how you get an under-performing NEIGHBORHOOD school up to par."-Garnerwolf

    It isn't easy, but it can be done. There are proven methods and if Wake were to employ dedicated action teams with targeted early interventions (more at 4 being a start) I believe it would happen. The problem is, no one here actually believes in WCPSS anymore. You think a bond would pass now? The bond 4 or 5 years ago barely passed and that was with a half million dollars of corporate advertising money pushing it through.

    Public schools will NEVER succeed without public support. This board, the previous board, makes no difference. That is the bottom line.

  • Not_So_Dumb Mar 17, 11:49 a.m.

    "Not having a comprehensive plan...with supporting data, is evidence of lack of professionalism."-blackdog

    Well said. You seem to be rather forgiving of the previous school board. If you actually care about processes and planning, you'd hate them as much as you do the current group.

  • chargerschic19 Mar 17, 11:45 a.m.

    According to the report, the actions of the Wake County Board of Education have created "a climate of uncertainty, suspicion and mistrust throughout the community" over the past 14 months. The report specifically cites the 2009 elections of board members John Tedesco, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman and Deborah Pr*ckett as the beginning of a "period of instability."

    "The report specifically cites the 2009 elections of board members John Tedesco, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman and Deborah Pr*ckett" The people that the community voted into these positions to do just they have done.

    It is a separate group intirely that has caused the "climate of uncertainty, suspicion and mistrust"

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