Former board member Eugene Walker remains as the sole plaintiff in the suit, which alleges voters’ rights were violated when Deal suspended Walker and five other board members Feb. 27.
One of the three remaining board members, Marshall D. Orson, set the tone for the March 20 meeting in his opening remarks.
“Whatever norms and conventions we subscribed to in the past, if we recognize they do not work, we have to be prepared to abandon them and chart a new course,” he said. Other actions in the board’s first meeting since Deal appointed the new members included accepting an update on an 11-point action plan to keep accreditation.
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools put the system on notice in December for reasons including a “dysfunctional” board.
A loss of accreditation can bar high school graduates from gaining college admission, scholarships and loans.
Chief Strategy Officer Ramona H. Tyson said her department, Strategic Management and Accountability, divided the plan into manageable pieces.
“We are working as an internal team that has been assigned and broken out into subcommittees,” she said.
Milestones in the process occur in May.
“On or before May 1, we will submit an institution status progress report to AdvancED,” Tyson said about SACS’ parent company. “That is the progress report they will read before they come for their official visit.”
That visit will be in the second or third week of May, she said.
“That time frame has been chosen simply because school ends at the end of May and we all get involved in the process of graduation,” Tyson said. Two months’ time is not enough to cross everything off their list, she said, nor does it have to be.
“They have said to us, ‘We don’t expect everything to be completed before we come in May. That is not the important piece. The most important piece is that you show a plan and a timeline of completing the plan,’” Tyson said.
Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond promised good results.
“The DeKalb school district will earn full accreditation,” he said. “It will not be lost. It will not be downgraded.”
About 250 residents attended the meeting, including DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.