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HomeNewsArchivesSCHOOLS NOW CANDIDATES FOR NEW ACCREDITATION

SCHOOLS NOW CANDIDATES FOR NEW ACCREDITATION

Jan. 8, 2002 – Students returned to classes Tuesday at three of the territory's four public high schools — Central, Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean — that were accredited when they left two weeks ago for the yearend holidays break but are no longer now.
In the first half of November, the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools notified Education Department officials that it would be withdrawing the accreditation of all three schools as of Dec. 31, 2001. A flurry of hand-wringing, finger-pointing and appeals for mercy and one more chance ensued on the part of educators, politicians and parents.
On Tuesday, George K. Allison, chair of the Commission on Secondary Schools, said the V.I. government has appealed the loss of accreditation. But meanwhile, he said, Education Department officials "have filed papers of candidacy for the schools to go through the process" of being evaluated anew for accreditation. Typically, he said, "the process should take about a year."
The government's appeal of the loss of accreditation will go before the commission at its spring meeting in April, Allison said. A special committee appointed to review the Virgin Islands situation "will make a report at the April meeting, and then we will review the report and see what happens." But, he emphasized, "The commission has already taken action as far as the accreditation. That is why the schools are now candidate schools. The commission appeal process is a separate thing."
As candidates for new accreditation, Allison said, the schools "will have visits by members of the commission and will be starting the process of doing their self-study." John Bartemes, Middle States regional agent for the Caribbean, "is the person who would be overseeing it," he said.
"A lot of technicalities start when appeals are made," Bartemes, who is based in Puerto Rico, said. "Middle States sets this up to be as fair as possible. The appeal process — they hear witnesses, they hear all sides."
Bartemes was not in his present position when Middle States teams visited the territory as far back as 1997 and warned of shortcomings in terms of how well the schools were complying with the standards for accreditation. Nor was he involved in the review of their assessments by the Philadelphia-based commission. On Nov. 27, however, he and another Middle States region representative, Maryanne Keeley, "went over there and were at a meeting with the governor and quite a few other people."
Following that meeting, Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds announced that the Education Department would appeal the commission's decision, that she would ask Middle States to extend the current accreditation through the end of the school year, and that the department would apply for re-accreditation for the schools.
On Monday, Dr. Susan Nicklas, deputy executive director of the Commission on Secondary Schools, said Middle States had been "inundated" with telephone calls about the V.I. situation — "from the media, legislators, the governor, parents. It got to the point where, because we had been getting all these calls, we had to make sure we were speaking with one voice." At that point, she said, it was decided that Allison would be the only CSS official to respond to queries for information.
Middle States officials have consistently stated that the loss of accreditation should not be viewed as a harmful blow to the schools but should be seen as the impetus for them to make changes that will improve the quality of education they offer. "This is going to work out better in the end, going through the process again, submitting reports to the committee members," Allison said.
Loss of accreditation "happens all the time, particularly in the larger cities," he said. "I would say that virtually all of the time, when something of this nature happens, those schools that are serious about their educational purpose do, in fact, get their act together."
The Education Complex on St. Croix, which opened its doors in the 1990s, has never sought accreditation.
The withdrawal of accreditation of the other three public high schools effective Dec. 31 capped a five-year continuum of non-compliance with commission standards.
In 1997, the three schools kept their accreditation but Middle States warned of the need for improvement in student and teacher attendance, a viable substitute teacher system and school-based budget control. Also of concern was the lack of space and librarians in the school libraries.
In February 1998, a Middle States team visiting the St. Thomas high schools warned that by the final inspection in April of that year, many improvements would be needed in order for the schools to keep their accreditation. In May, Middle States said the team sent to the schools "was firm in its view that little or no progress was made to correct these conditions following the last notice." Middle States ended up granting the schools conditional accreditation through Dec. 31, 1999.
In March of 1999, Middle States returned to the territory to review the areas of concern. Government House announced that the three schools had been assured of accreditation through May 1, 2001. On Jan. 10, 2000, in his first State of the Territory message, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull cited his commitment to "secure the re-accreditation of our secondary schools in both districts." Last March, Central High School dedicated a new administration building, freeing up space to expand its library.
In November, Bartemes described accreditation as a process. "It's external evaluation to let a school know where it stands and how to improve, and getting that input from a specialized, non-biased source … You get it, you have to keep it, you continually have to earn it again."
For information on secondary schools accreditation, visit the Middle States web site.
For background on the events dating from 1997 that led up to the withdrawal of accreditation from the three schools, see the Nov. 19 Source story "Public high schools to lose accreditation".

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Jan. 8, 2002 - Students returned to classes Tuesday at three of the territory's four public high schools -- Central, Charlotte Amalie and Ivanna Eudora Kean -- that were accredited when they left two weeks ago for the yearend holidays break but are no longer now.
In the first half of November, the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools notified Education Department officials that it would be withdrawing the accreditation of all three schools as of Dec. 31, 2001. A flurry of hand-wringing, finger-pointing and appeals for mercy and one more chance ensued on the part of educators, politicians and parents.
On Tuesday, George K. Allison, chair of the Commission on Secondary Schools, said the V.I. government has appealed the loss of accreditation. But meanwhile, he said, Education Department officials "have filed papers of candidacy for the schools to go through the process" of being evaluated anew for accreditation. Typically, he said, "the process should take about a year."
The government's appeal of the loss of accreditation will go before the commission at its spring meeting in April, Allison said. A special committee appointed to review the Virgin Islands situation "will make a report at the April meeting, and then we will review the report and see what happens." But, he emphasized, "The commission has already taken action as far as the accreditation. That is why the schools are now candidate schools. The commission appeal process is a separate thing."
As candidates for new accreditation, Allison said, the schools "will have visits by members of the commission and will be starting the process of doing their self-study." John Bartemes, Middle States regional agent for the Caribbean, "is the person who would be overseeing it," he said.
"A lot of technicalities start when appeals are made," Bartemes, who is based in Puerto Rico, said. "Middle States sets this up to be as fair as possible. The appeal process -- they hear witnesses, they hear all sides."
Bartemes was not in his present position when Middle States teams visited the territory as far back as 1997 and warned of shortcomings in terms of how well the schools were complying with the standards for accreditation. Nor was he involved in the review of their assessments by the Philadelphia-based commission. On Nov. 27, however, he and another Middle States region representative, Maryanne Keeley, "went over there and were at a meeting with the governor and quite a few other people."
Following that meeting, Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds announced that the Education Department would appeal the commission's decision, that she would ask Middle States to extend the current accreditation through the end of the school year, and that the department would apply for re-accreditation for the schools.
On Monday, Dr. Susan Nicklas, deputy executive director of the Commission on Secondary Schools, said Middle States had been "inundated" with telephone calls about the V.I. situation -- "from the media, legislators, the governor, parents. It got to the point where, because we had been getting all these calls, we had to make sure we were speaking with one voice." At that point, she said, it was decided that Allison would be the only CSS official to respond to queries for information.
Middle States officials have consistently stated that the loss of accreditation should not be viewed as a harmful blow to the schools but should be seen as the impetus for them to make changes that will improve the quality of education they offer. "This is going to work out better in the end, going through the process again, submitting reports to the committee members," Allison said.
Loss of accreditation "happens all the time, particularly in the larger cities," he said. "I would say that virtually all of the time, when something of this nature happens, those schools that are serious about their educational purpose do, in fact, get their act together."
The Education Complex on St. Croix, which opened its doors in the 1990s, has never sought accreditation.
The withdrawal of accreditation of the other three public high schools effective Dec. 31 capped a five-year continuum of non-compliance with commission standards.
In 1997, the three schools kept their accreditation but Middle States warned of the need for improvement in student and teacher attendance, a viable substitute teacher system and school-based budget control. Also of concern was the lack of space and librarians in the school libraries.
In February 1998, a Middle States team visiting the St. Thomas high schools warned that by the final inspection in April of that year, many improvements would be needed in order for the schools to keep their accreditation. In May, Middle States said the team sent to the schools "was firm in its view that little or no progress was made to correct these conditions following the last notice." Middle States ended up granting the schools conditional accreditation through Dec. 31, 1999.
In March of 1999, Middle States returned to the territory to review the areas of concern. Government House announced that the three schools had been assured of accreditation through May 1, 2001. On Jan. 10, 2000, in his first State of the Territory message, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull cited his commitment to "secure the re-accreditation of our secondary schools in both districts." Last March, Central High School dedicated a new administration building, freeing up space to expand its library.
In November, Bartemes described accreditation as a process. "It's external evaluation to let a school know where it stands and how to improve, and getting that input from a specialized, non-biased source ... You get it, you have to keep it, you continually have to earn it again."
For information on secondary schools accreditation, visit the Middle States web site.
For background on the events dating from 1997 that led up to the withdrawal of accreditation from the three schools, see the Nov. 19 Source story "Public high schools to lose accreditation".