COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Georgia’s second-largest school district will be undergoing an unscheduled special review by its accrediting agency after receiving complaints from three school board members and others in the public.
Cognia, former AdvancED and SACS, received a letter from Cobb County School Board members Charisse Davis, Dr. Jaha Howard, and Leroy "Tré" Hutchins in January 2021 claiming violations in Cognia standards.
"The communication I received from Cognia centered upon allegations of political disagreements and intra-personal behavior within the board of education. While these are serious concerns, an unscheduled Special Review seems to be a very unusual response, particularly following the extension of our accreditation and the possible adverse effects of a Special Review to the District’s students, faculty, staff, and community. Given this, the District is taking this Special Review very seriously. The District will fully cooperate with Cognia in moving forward without delay. I have every confidence the District’s adherence to performance standards will be evident, just as it was 14 months ago," said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale wrote in a statement.
The Cobb County School District responded to the concerns a month later.
"The District has taken great care to provide Cognia extensive information demonstrating our adherence to its standards," said Ragsdale. "While the District’s record speaks for itself, we know there is always room for growth in all areas, including effective Board governance and interactions. Georgia law establishes maintaining accreditation as a primary responsibility of a board of education. The District is committed to continuous improvement in meeting our obligations under Cognia, state law, and Board policy."
The district said a negative review by the accreditation agency could impact college acceptance rates, college scholarships, enrollment, funding, and educator recruitment, and retention. The district points to the impact of such reviews had on Clayton County in 2008 and DeKalb County in 2011.
"We are a strong district with a history of academic excellence, student success, and sound fiscal stewardship," CCSD Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said. "This unscheduled review is unusual for several reasons, including Cognia’s recent extension of our accreditation term only 14 months ago. In 2019 and 2020, Cognia’s leadership expressed sufficient confidence in the District to extend our accreditation through 2024 – the maximum length we could have been given."
Cobb County Schools is the 25th largest district in the nation and has an 89% graduation rate.
A timeline for the special review has not been released.
Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.