Wake County Schools

Wake schools told to consider dropping accreditation

Posted January 11, 2011 4:35 p.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2011 10:59 p.m. EST

Wake County Public School System

— An administrator with a national accreditation group has suggested the Wake County Public School System consider withdrawing its accreditation in light of a pending review unless school officials “can move forward in a more collegial and collaborative manner,” according to e-mails made public Tuesday by the school district.

The statement comes in a Jan. 10 e-mail from AdvancED President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Elgart in response to concerns from school board attorney Ann Majestic that the agency is overstepping its bounds in reviewing changes the school board has made regarding its student assignment policy.

Board member John Tedesco called AdvancED a "totalitarian monopoly from Atlanta." 

"There are several other agencies that do accreditation of a higher caliber we are looking at," Tedesco said.

The board voted in February to move away from busing students to help achieve socio-economic diversity toward community-based schools.

That prompted the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP to file a complaint with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, – a subdivision of AdvancED – alleging that some board members with “racist attitudes” want to segregate the school system.

Elgart questioned the board's ability to govern effectively in light of the NAACP probe.

"There is a significant amount of evidence to support the notion they are struggling with that ability right now," Elgart said.

Tedesco said the board's ability to govern is not decided by an accreditation board, but by the district's voters.

"If the community does not value their elected officials, they elect new ones," he said.

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

In his response, Elgart wrote that he was “disappointed and deeply concerned regarding the continued attitude and resistance of school system leaders.”

“Yet, Wake County leadership continues to take action that is confrontational,” Elgart wrote. “I seriously doubt the school system can benefit from the accreditation process with this attitude and approach.”

The visit was scheduled for this week, and the school board was scheduled to meet about the visit Wednesday evening, but AdvancED canceled it Tuesday, citing the weather for its decision. It’s unclear if the visit has been rescheduled.

The school board will meet Wednesday to discuss the issue.

AdvancED, which has no authority over Wake County schools, has said the review has nothing to do with school performance but about governance and leadership and whether the board’s actions are negatively affecting schools.

Accreditation is important, because it can be used in determining a high school student’s acceptance to a higher institution of learning.