LITTLE ROCK — The state Board of Education voted Thursday to remove several schools from probation after being told that the state Department of Education had incorrectly recommended the status for the schools for failing to comply with accreditation standards.
State Education Commissioner Johnny Key made a public apology to the schools and said the agency will work to ensure such a mistake does not happen again.
In a special meeting Thursday, the board heard a presentation by Willie Morris of the Education Department’s Division of Public School Accountability, who said “incorrect information” was presented to the board at its June 8 meeting, resulting in some schools being placed on probation unfairly.
Morris said he learned after that meeting that the department should not have recommended probationary status for Lakeside Middle School in Garland County, Bauxite High School, Heber Springs High School, Berryville Intermediate School and Rector High School because they had resolved their issues.
He said the Education Department then put together a team to revisit its accreditation report, and during the review Dumas High School submitted paperwork showing it had resolved its issues.
The review team also discovered that Stuttgart Junior High School, Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff and Exalt Academy, an open-enrollment charter school in Little Rock, had resolved their issues and did not deserve to be on probation, Morris said.
He also noted that on June 8, the agency recommended probation for schools in the Greenwood and Bryant school districts and the Woodlawn School District in Cleveland County, but the board chose at that time not to assign probationary status to those schools after the districts appealed.
Speaking via phone, Key said during Thursday’s meeting, “We made a mistake. As soon as we learned about it, we took steps to correct it, and we’re going to work to improve our systems so that this type of thing doesn’t happen again.
“I want to make an apology to the districts and the educators and administrators out there for any negative perception that may have caused regarding their schools. We certainly do not want to do anything that would portray our districts in a negative light,” he said.
Schools that will remain on probation are Arkansas School for the Deaf Elementary; Quitman Elementary; Glen Rose Middle in Hot Spring County; Lee High in Lee County; and Matthews Elementary in the Dollarway School District in Pine Bluff and six schools in the Pine Bluff School District: Broadmoor Elementary, 34th Avenue Elementary, Southwood Elementary, Pine Bluff High, Jack Robey Junior High and W.T. Cheney Elementary.
Districts on probation are Arkansas School for the Deaf and Lee.
A school or district on probation remains accredited but can lose its accreditation if it fails to comply with standards in the next school year.