GCPS ISC_Gwinnett Schools file photo

A team from the agency that accredits Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin a special review to look into numerous complaints, primarily about the county’s Board of Education, this weekend.

Cognia’s special accreditation review of GCPS begins Sunday and is expected to last through Wednesday. The team that will be conducting the review will interview people who have filed complaints against the district, as well as parents, students, teachers, administrators, Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, members of the Gwinnett County Board of Education and other members of the community during the visit.

District leaders will also present evidence to show how GCPS is complying with Cognia’s accreditation standards.

“A Special Review Team comprised of trained professionals will be appointed to conduct the special review,” Cognia Chief Global Accreditation Officer Annette Bohling said in a letter on April 19. “The review will be conducted in a remote modality. The special review will provide all parties with the opportunity to review information and evidence related to the above listed Accreditation Standards.

“Any findings of the Team will be substantiated through the Cognia Performance Standards for School Systems and the Cognia Accreditation and Certification Policies and Procedures.”

The initial complaints that drew Cognia’s attention were sent in before March 1, and therefore before the board voted 3-2 to terminate Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks’ contract 11 months early, effective July 31.

After the initial letter — which was dated March 1 — was sent to district leaders, however, the accrediting agency received additional complaints about the board.

♦ “Exhibit a lack of understanding regarding their roles and responsibilities as members of the board.”

♦ “Do not demonstrate collegiality with respect to their differences or work cohesively to promote student achievement and the success of the district.”

♦ “Do not adhere to a Code of Ethic.”

♦ “Have allowed discrimination to take place against students of color regarding ... discipline infractions.”

♦ “Make decisions that seem unethical and discriminatory regarding the use of social media.”

♦ “Have not been responsive to a downward trajectory in student achievement within the district.”

A letter sent to district officials in April showed the review team will focus on how well GCPS, and the school board, is complying with six accreditation standards, including:

Standard 1.4:♦ The governing authority establishes and ensures adherence to policies that are designed to support system effectiveness.

Standard 1.5:♦ The governing authority adheres to a code of ethics and functions within defined roles and responsibilities.

Standard 2.1:♦ Learners have equitable opportunities to develop skills and achieve the content and learning priorities established by the system.

Standard 2.7:♦ Instruction is monitored and adjusted to meet individual learners’ needs and the system’s learning expectations.

Standard 2.11:♦ Educators gather, analyze, and use formative and summative data that lead to demonstrable improvement of student learning.

Standard 3.8:♦ The system allocates human, material, and fiscal resources in alignment with the system’s identified needs and priorities to improve student performance and organizational effectiveness.

“The Review Team will provide Improvement Priorities, if necessary, that will require decisive action for correction on the part of the district with follow-up documentation submitted to Cognia within a timeframe as identified by Cognia,” Bohling said in the April 19 letter. “Also, a written report of the Special Review will be provided to Gwinnett County Public Schools.”

I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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