Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Catholic School Sees Small Rise In Clayton Students

Published October 2, 2008

The loss of SACS accreditation by the Clayton County school system has not led to a significant change in enrollment at neighboring Catholic schools.

At Our Lady of Mercy High School in Fairburn, a few additional students from Clayton County entered this fall. Typically 20 to 25 percent of students at OLM are Clayton County residents, said principal Dan Dorsel.

OLM received more inquiries than usual this year, he said, and when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced the loss of Clayton’s accreditation Sept. 1, they had a new spate of calls.

A few new students have entered as a result, Dorsel said.

Diane Starkovich, superintendent of Catholic schools, said the difference in cost between a public school and a tuition-based Catholic school has probably deterred many families.

The Catholic school system has not actively recruited students in Clayton County and is not looking to benefit from the system’s difficulties, the superintendent said.

However, to assist Clayton families, she did waive a policy of not accepting students in their senior year of high school or eighth-grade year of elementary school if the students met other admission criteria.

“We waived that policy for qualifying students,” the superintendent said.

If families can afford the tuition, Our Lady of Mercy is “a good choice” for parents concerned about their child being in a college preparatory environment, the superintendent agreed.

“We know we have a very good high school with a strong college preparatory curriculum,” she said. “I always tell parents when you walk into a school like Mercy and you meet the students and the parents, you fall in love with that school. … If they are qualified, we will accept them.”

She also noted that the situation in Clayton County is still in flux and may change even during this school year. If SACS restores accreditation to the Clayton system in this school year, it will be retroactive to the beginning of the school year, Starkovich said.