Birmingham schools risk accreditation

Another warning to the Birmingham Board of Education. Get your house in order or risk having the district's schools lose accreditation.

AdvancED Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is so concerned about what it terms "governance issues" by the board that it has suspended the school system's application for "district accreditation."

Right now, each school is accredited on an individual basis. The board has until October 1 of this year, to submit a letter to SACS, showing what progress has been made addressing the governance issues, primarily, too much micromanging of the system.

Dr. Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED Southern Association of Colleges and Schools says the Birmingham Board of Education has not shown the stable leadership necessary to make the system worthy of a district-wide accreditation.

"There needs to be a stable environment in which the schools are operating under that governance and leadership," says Elgart. "(AdvancED/SACS) are beginning a process to monitor the system's ability to meet the standards for accreditation."If the Birmingham City School system were to lose its accreditation here's what happens to students.

A degree from an unaccredited school could mean no college acceptance and certainly no scholarship.

Dr. Ed Richardson, the state-appointed CFO of the Birmingham district says the schools deserve to be accredited. However, he understands SACS concerns about district accreditation. "It's certainly a disturbing notice from the accrediting body," says Richardson. "I'm certainly not concerned that Birmingham would lose its accreditation, but being placed on probation is something we would have to consider very seriously."

Leroy Smith, whose son attends Hayes K-8 school says he's concerned even the possibility of the schools not be accredited. "It wouldn't be nice if it got any deeper, they need to get it sorted out so the kids can continue to learn," Smith says. "If the people of the board do not want to do the things for the kids, then we're going to remove those people from the board, so we can get people in there who are going to let kids be first and not last."Dr. Elgart says at this time parents should not be concerned about schools losing{} accreditation. But, the board must soon come into compliance. {}"Parents should be concerned with the current ability of the system to provide a day-to-day education of the children and less concerned about long term impact of accreditation, although they should monitor how the system responds to this letter and how they carry out their responsibilities in accordance with state law and local expectations," says Elgart.

Birmingham Board of Education president, Edward Maddox would not comment on the letter of concern or the possibility of the system losing its accreditation when contacted Monday.

Once the letter is sent by the board to SACS by October 1, SACS then has the decision to make whether the changes made are satisfactory.

If not, SACS will determine whether Birmingham City Schools should be placed on probation in its December meeting.