Group threatens Wake schools accreditation

September 23, 2010 3:25:18 PM PDT
AdvancED - the group responsible for accrediting Wake County high schools - says in a letter to the school board that it's concerned about its "openly defiant nature" and threatened to proceed with ending the district's accreditation unless it complies with information requests.

Click here to read the letter (.pdf)

Colleges use the accreditation to determine if applicants come from quality schools, and losing it could make it harder for students to get into the university of their choice or student loans.

AdvancEd announced it intends to review actions and decisions -- like how new policies have been made, what's been done in the move toward community schools, and how the seat voucher system works for public meetings -- made by the Wake County School Board since January 1, 2010 earlier this year after it got a complaint from the NAACP.

The NAACP has been a vocal opponent of the board's recent decision to do away with school assignments based on diversity in favor of sending students to schools closer to their homes.

In its response to AdvancED's requests for information in advance of sending a review team to the district, the school board said it has "serious concerns about the basis, purpose, and scope" of the visit.

A letter from Wake attorney Ann Majestic says the requests "strongly suggest that AdvancEd wishes to second guess the merits of the Board's decision to transition to a community-based school assignment plan."

"We have serious concerns about the proposed investigation and how it relates to accreditation our high schools," Majestic said. "What I understand from the letter we received from their attorney is that any decision of a school board is open for their investigation and that really seems to go well beyond their standards."

After the school board got a stern rebuke, saying not cooperating could make getting accredited much more difficult, the board appears to be softening somewhat and is considering co-operating with the agency.

"Anytime you put the accreditation of your schools, any of your schools in this case our high schools in jeopardy that's a serious issue," WCPSS Board Member Keith Sutton said.

After a closed door meeting Thursday afternoon, Majestic announced that the board is reconsidering its position and is drafting another letter to AdvancED - one with a different tone.

"That will be reflected in the letter were going to try to cooperate, but we're still needed to understand what will be the scope of their investigation and how does it relate to accrediting schools," she said.

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