School boards are charged with administering the education of a region's young people. Last week, the Lanier County school board hopefully received an education on how the education of a region's children can be compromised by political maneuverings and bickering.

Last week, a probe into the actions of the Lanier County Board of Education resulted in a recommendation that all of Lanier's schools be placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.

The probe claims recent actions and behavior of several unnamed school board members have been in direct violation of the Lanier BOE's policies and procedures. The probe revealed that some school board members had operated outside of their clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and parameters of authority.

Based on these findings, the probe's investigative team recommends that Lanier County schools be placed on probation for the remainder of the 2005-06 academic year. The accreditation council is expected to approve the probation recommendation on Oct. 18.

If the Lanier County school board members were school students, this probe is the equivalent of sending them to the principal's office. But it is the real students of Lanier County who will be punished if the school board doesn't shape up.

If, for example, the school board continues violating procedures during the probationary period, Lanier County schools could lose their accreditation. If accreditation is lost, few colleges or universities, if any, will recognize the diplomas of graduating Lanier students as legitimate. In other words, Lanier students would not be able to go to college.

This probationary action would be a shame at any time. But it is doubly a shame given Lanier schools' high marks for academics and the recent implementation of new programs throughout the school system. Lanier County's committed students and full-time educators should not have to bear the embarrassment of the school board's behavior.

Let's hope that the probation recommendation teaches the Lanier County BOE a lesson before Lanier's students are punished even further by a board that is supposed to nurture young people's educational potential, not potentially damage it.

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