Accrediting agency says DeKalb school board needs to learn to work together

The DeKalb County Board of Education is searching for a new superintendent after parting ways with Stephen Green earlier than expected.

Nick Nesmith / for WABE

The DeKalb County school board needs to learn how to work together better, according to a monitoring review from the district’s accrediting agency Cognia. The school district underwent a full accreditation review last March and Cognia flagged governance as an area the board needs to work on.

The issue has plagued DeKalb’s board in the past. In 2012, Cognia (then AdvancEd) placed the district on probation, mainly due to poor governance. That prompted then-Gov. Nathan Deal to take advantage of a new law that let him step in and replace six out of nine board members.

The monitoring review, which took place in November, featured interviews with DeKalb staff and board members. Cognia said the board lacks cohesion and that staff members complained board meetings are hard to watch due to the combativeness of some members. The review also says board members don’t seem to understand that they represent the entire school district, rather than just the region that elected them.

“During interviews with board members, frequent references were made to ‘my schools’ and ‘my constituents’ rather than to the system as a whole,” the report says. “Feedback from board members indicates there is lack of organization within the Board that hinders its effectiveness.”

The review does credit the district for improved student performance.

The board will attend a retreat next month, where it is expected to address some of the concerns outlined in the review.

“I’m hopeful that our upcoming retreat will lead to a renewed effort to hold each other accountable for upholding our Board norms and ethics, and creating a safe, professional climate at BOE meetings,” board member Allyson Gevertz wrote in a social media post.

The board has about a year to make changes recommended in the monitoring review.