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DeKalb students grill Governor Deal about accreditation threat | Education

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DeKalb students grill Governor Deal about accreditation threat

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - We've heard plenty from adults about the accreditation crisis facing DeKalb County's School system thanks to its dysfunctional school board.

But we hadn't heard much from the students who stand to lose the most...until Thursday.

Hooked up by a teleconference, 21 of DeKalb's best and brightest high school students got a chance to grill Governor Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) and what's left of their school board.

It didn't take them long to get to the point.

"Would my scholarship offers from Stanford and Vanderbilt, would those be taken away from me if we were to lose accreditation?" asked Tucker High student/athlete Kirk Tucker.

"They would, as a general rule, not accept students from unaccredited schools," the Governor replied.

"Is there a backup plan, is there a way students can attend schools in other districts?" asked Richard Peay of the DeKalb School of the Arts.

"Those are the kinds of inconveniences and disturbances in families and in students' lives that we don't want to have happen," Deal answered.

He cited the mass exodus from Clayton County a few years ago when its school system lost accreditation.

The Governor assured the students that since they are all juniors and seniors, they would probably not be affected by the threat of DeKalb possibly losing its academic credentials by the end of this year.

But one student astutely asked if it still wouldn't affect the value of diplomas from those who've already graduated.

Deal admitted it not only affects the school system's reputation, but the reputations of Atlanta and the entire state as well.

He said it could threaten real estate values and drive off companies thinking about bringing in new jobs.

But the Governor assured the students he's doing all he can to help DeKalb get off academic probation by moving quickly to pick 6 replacements for the school board members he suspended last week.

On Friday a special panel he appointed will begin considering applications from 403 possible candidates.

Deal wants a final list of 12 to choose from, pointing out the panel would work through the weekend.

While honored to be part of Thursday's question-and-answer session, many of the DeKalb students still wonder about assurances from adults who got them into this predicament to begin with.

"It's really kind of a heart broken moment 'cause knowing what I worked for so hard could be lost in just a few months," said Kirk Tucker.

"I can see that they're trying and going to improve on it, but I just, you know, I think that actions speak louder than words, so unless you show me, I'm not really gonna think anything about it yet," said Brenda Khor of Cross Keys High.