Gwinnett County Public Schools retains accreditation, receives directives to improve certain areas

Gwinnett County Public Schools has maintained its accreditation after a special review by the independent agency, Cognia. 

The review in Gwinnett began after Cognia received complaints alleging Board of Education governance issues. Cognia notified GCPS of complaints on March 1 and said a review was necessary on April 19. 

The district's recently hired superintendent received the agency's full report on Thursday. 

"I am pleased to report to our community that our school district remains in good standing with Cognia and our district has retained its status as a fully accredited school district," Gwinnett County Public Schools superintendent Calvin Watts said. "This review is not something that we have taken lightly. Our district governance and leadership team will learn from Cognia’s findings as we move forward together. As a school district, we understand the importance of accreditation as a measure of quality and success and as a tool for improvement. As a teaching and learning organization, we will use the findings from the report to guide and strengthen our continuous improvement efforts."

The federal government requires all schools and colleges to maintain certain standards.

Cognia's special review focused on the Gwinnett County Board of Education, the district said. 

The review indicated the board should prioritize improvements with regards to establishing and adhering to policies that are designed to support system effectiveness and adhering to a code of ethics and functions within defined roles and responsibilities. Cognia's report recommended GCPS enhance or extend its improvement in these areas to maintain accreditation. 

District officials must now complete directives from Cognia to show improvement in these areas prior to a monitoring review that will be scheduled before May of 2022.

The district said in a statement that it's already taken steps to implement some of the agency's directives, they were not evident to the team during their review. Other directives will be implemented during future Board of Education and superintendent training sessions, according to GCPS.

"We are excited to see that the recommendations Cognia suggested are initiatives our Board is already working on," Board of Education Chairman Everton Blair said. "We look forward to growing and learning together as a Board governance team with our new superintendent." 

The district's Board of Education meetings have been long and sometimes heated, particularly over mask mandates instituted for students and staff. 

The Board of Education also took steps to part ways with longtime superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks shortly after learning of the complaints filed against it. 

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