Once the response is evaluated, the agency will decide whether a review of the local school system or other further action is needed, AdvancED President Dr. Mark Elgart said in the letter.
The letter cited allegations from Marlow about the governance and leadership of the board and superintendent, as well as claims she made about an inappropriate personal relationship between a school system staff member and member of the board.
Marlow said Friday she was pleased about the letter from AdvancEd, which includes the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“I am grateful that SACS has taken my concerns regarding our governance seriously,” Marlow said of the complaint she filed in June.
Cherokee County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said the letter and request from Elgart are standard protocol from SACS.
Petruzielo notified the school board in a memo Friday that he had received the correspondence from AdvancED and advised them he would be responding to the agency and would include “responses from individuals identified in the complaint.”
He wrote in the memo that he expected to receive a letter from the accreditation agency because “it is consistent with .AdvancED’s standard protocols for responding to a complaint.”
“Each school board member, in addition to those identified in the complaint, is welcome to provide me no later than next Friday with any observation, response or comment regarding the allegations in Ms. Marlow’s complaint,” Petruzielo wrote in his memo. “Such responses will be included verbatim with my correspondence to AdvancED.”
The AdvancED letter said after reviewing the response, the agency will “determine what actions, if any, need to be taken including the possibility that a Special Review Team may be appointed to review the Cherokee County School District.”
“Following receipt of our response, the review team may determine that it needs additional documentation from the school district, it may want to conduct interviews or site visits as part of its review of the complaint,” School District Director of Public Information Barbara Jacoby said Friday.
Elgart said in the letter that the allegations include “violations to board policy, state open meeting laws and public records requests.” The letter also singled out a claim in Marlow’s complaint, stating that “there may be inappropriate personal relationships between a school system professional staff member and a member of the board.”
Marlow said Friday that she would not comment on the accusation in her complaint that Board Chair Janet Read was having “inappropriate personal relationships with the professional staff.”
“I intend to respect the integrity of their investigation and will not be able to comment on these specific allegations until after I have spoken with SACS directly,” Marlow said by email.
The letter from AdvancED pointed to three “indicators” that the Cherokee school district might not be adhering to the accreditation’s governance and leadership standard.
The letter stated:
• Indicator 2.1 – The governing body establishes policies and supports practices that ensure effective administration of the system and its schools.
• Indicator 2.2 – The governing body operates responsibly and functions effectively.
• Indicator 2.4 – Leadership and staff at all levels of the system foster a culture consistent with the system’s purpose and direction.
The school system has until Aug. 31 to answer the request.
Marlow and her political adviser Robert Trim, along with the Cherokee County Republican Party Secretary Barbara Knowles, were arrested on felony charges in July of making false statements to Canton Police.
The next step in the process is a grand jury review of the case and determine to indict the three. The next opportunity for indictments in Cherokee County will be Aug. 12.
In a radio interview with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant published online Thursday, Marlow said she would not be discussing the charges, and said she had no intentions of resigning from her post.