Mar 8, 2022 - News

Cognia flips on Cobb schools special review

Cobb schools headquarters
Cognia has revised the results of its special review of the Cobb County School District. Photo: Cobb County School District

The nonprofit agency that accredits most schools in Georgia has reversed some of its findings of the Cobb County School District.

Driving the news: Cognia CEO Mark Elgart said Monday during a Cobb Board of Education meeting that some of the results from its review conducted in August did not provide context or factual information about the district's spending.

  • However, Elgart maintains that school board members still need to improve operations.
  • Elgart said Cobb appealed the special review's findings surrounding how the district spent its money and after he reviewed the report, he determined its results were not valid.
  • Cognia's change in heart also means its follow-up visit planned for November to the district is canceled. Cobb will undergo its normal accreditation review in 2024, Elgart said.

Read Elgart's letter to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale here.

Catch up quick: Cognia conducted the special review after three Democratic Board of Education members, parents and community members raised concerns about the school board's governance, some of the district’s financial decisions and even board member behavior.

  • In one instance, the school board approved spending up to $12 million to buy UV sanitizing lights and hand-rinsing stations for classrooms, despite board members not knowing the details of the proposal before the vote.
  • Cognia's special review of the district spurred two state legislators to introduce bills that would require state-approved accrediting agencies to only assess districts in student academic achievement and financial management — not school board behavior.

Of note: Cobb never publicly discussed Cognia's report and instead applied for its high schools to be accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission.

What we're watching: While the district's use of financial resources was cleared, the special review findings are still valid surrounding how the board interacts with each other, Elgart said.

  • Superintendent Ragsdale said he appreciates Cognia “reversing [the] findings and recommendations that appeared to be [...] and based on statements of opinion and false allegations.”

Yes, but: One board member, Charisse Davis, tells Axios that Cognia did an "about-face" on the review and that she's learned that "some voices and experiences matter while others do not."

Kristal's thought bubble: I want to hear from you, Cobb parents. What are your thoughts on Cognia's decision? How do you feel about the school board's ability to work together in the future? Let me know at [email protected].

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