Nov 29, 2021 - News

Parents push Cobb County School Board to keep accreditation

Illustration of circled "Needs work!" written on notebook paper with a grading pen next to it.
Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The Cobb County School Board should set aside its differences and make needed changes so the district can remain accredited, several parents tell Axios.

Why it matters: While the district still maintains its status as an accredited system, a special review done by Cognia raised concerns about the district and school board’s handling of its fiscal responsibilities, among several other issues.

  • The district has until December 2022 to make the changes before its accredited status could change.

State of play: Democratic board members Jaha Howard, Charisse Davis and Leroy “Tre” Hutchins had asked Cognia in April to conduct a special review after topics they wanted to discuss were not added to meeting agendas.

  • The Cobb County School Board is racially and politically divided: Four white Republicans are in the majority, while three Black Democrats make up the minority.

Hutchins tells Axios that civic groups in the South Cobb area are planning a series of town hall meetings to discuss the report’s findings.

  • He also says he’s “anxious and ready to see” what Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and his colleagues will do to comply with the recommendations.

Republican Chair Randy Scamihorn says the board hasn’t decided how it will approach addressing Cognia’s recommendations.

  • “I am very happy that we were able to retain our accreditation, but I’m disappointed that others felt like we needed to go through that,” he says.

What they’re saying: Valerie Testman, the parent of a South Cobb High School student, tells Axios she agrees with the report’s findings.

  • Testman says the school board’s approval of a rule that requires each member to get four colleagues to agree to an item before it can be discussed “puts the three minority and Democratic members in a precarious position in representing their constituents.”
  • She says she hopes the district and school board are working behind the scenes to make the changes.

Whats next: Watching the Funds – Cobb, a grassroots group, will create a report card featuring Cognia’s action steps, and its members will present status updates on how the board is progressing at upcoming meetings.

  • Stacy Efrat, an East Cobb parent and member of Watching the Funds – Cobb, says dysfunction on the school board could be resolved if it allowed all members to put items on meeting agendas.
  • “That will go a long way in building trust among the board members,” she tells Axios.
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