The Cherokee County School District learned Wednesday afternoon it was cleared by AdvancED SACS accreditation agency of all allegations brought against the local school system in June by School Board member Kelly Marlow.
School Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo received a letter from AdvancED about 3 p.m. Wednesday that said the agency had determined the district was not in violation of accreditation standards or policies.
In Marlow’s June complaint letter to Advanc-ED, the District 1 member accused the school board of violating AdvancED accreditation policy in the area of governance and leadership and claimed there was a possible inappropriate personal relationship between a school system staff member and a member of the board.
Dr. Mark Elgart, president and CEO of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools of AdvancEd, sent the letter to the superintendent, dated Aug. 19, stating that “no further action is needed” in response to Marlow’s complaint.
“After a thorough review and analysis of the response and its corresponding documentation, AdvancED finds the Cherokee County School District is not in violation of AdvancED Accreditation Standards and/or policies,” Elgart wrote in the letter, obtained by the Tribune through an open records request.
In the letter, Elgart stated the agency will “continue to monitor the situation and will assess any new information, if relevant and appropriate.”
Petruzielo sent a memo to school board members after receiving the notification, saying “We have contended that the allegation made by Ms. Marlow were very serious and without merit.”
“Clearly, this removes the dark cloud of potential accreditation issues/risk that was cast over our outstanding School District,” Petruzielo wrote in the memo. “And eliminates the distraction that these allegations have caused for our community and staff, who can now return to putting all of their energy and focus on school improvement and our primary mission of teaching and learning.”
After receiving the notification, School Board Chair Janet Read said she was happy to hear from AdvancED.
“I was confident that (Marlow’s) allegations were without merit, but it was nice to have that reinforced by AdvancED,” Read said. “My hope is now that we can just move forward and get back to teaching and learning.”
Marlow could not be reached for comment before deadline.
No date has been set for an ethics violation hearing, which was approved unanimously by the board at their meeting on July 24, to determine if Marlow violated the School Board’s ethics policy by sending the letter to AdvancED.