Friday, February 22, 2008

Governor Perdue Offers Assistance to Clayton County Public Schools

Today Governor Sonny Perdue announced several initiatives to help Clayton County Public Schools maintain its schools’ accreditation.

“Ensuring that Georgia’s children receive a world class education has been and will continue to be my top priority as Governor,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “In Georgia, we understand that local control of education is the optimal method of education governance. However, when a local board of education consistently demonstrates to independent authorities that there is a lack of basic governance, the state will act within its power to help. Therefore, I offer assistance to Clayton County Public Schools in order to regain a foundation of responsible governance. We are lending this helping hand to support Clayton County’s teachers, parents and, most importantly, students.”

Today Governor Perdue announced two “Special Liaisons” will serve in an advisory role and offer guidance to Clayton County in the completion of steps outlined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Committee by September 1, 2008 to avoid a loss of the system’s accreditation. Governor Perdue has asked William (“Brad”) Bryant and James Bostic, Jr., both members of the State Board of Education, to serve in this capacity. The two liaisons will regularly update Governor Perdue on Clayton County School System’s progress.

Governor Perdue has also called for state agency assistance in the three separate audits recommended by SACS so that the system can maintain accreditation. The state auditor’s office will assist in reviewing audits of the school system’s finances. The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement will audit the system’s attendance records. Governor Perdue has also requested that Secretary of State Karen Handel, in her capacity as the state’s chief elections official, audit the election of the members of the Clayton County School Board to ensure that such elections fully complied with Georgia law.

“Local control of our schools is always the preferred option,” said Governor Perdue. “I believe that the actions outlined today will help the system complete the steps put forth by SACS, and hopefully prevent the loss of accreditation of its schools. When local control fails, there needs to be a system of accountability in place and a path to regaining accreditation.”

Governor Perdue has also asked for legislation to be drafted that will automatically trigger a referendum to remove a school board if the system it governs loses accreditation. The referendum would be put before the voters of that county in a special election set by law to remove the entire school board from office. In the event such a referendum is approved by the voters, the State Board of Education would then appoint the new members of the county’s school board.
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