Thousands of struggling students in Georgia have lost a tax-funded program meant to boost their test scores and graduation rates.

In its brief lifespan, Georgia's Chief Turnaround Office tapped a team of in-house education specialists and outside contractors to work on shaping up some of the lowest five percent of the state's public schools. They fanned out to 21 struggling schools from Savannah to the Alabama state line, encompassing nearly 10,000 students.

Many in Georgia’s education sphere trace the program’s demise to its roots in the state legislature in 2017, when lawmakers crafted the program as a largely stand-alone office answerable to the state Board of Education, but not to Woods’ department. Others pin more blame on the program's leader, Eric Thomas, who weathered strife from some staff within his program who bristled under his leadership, eventually prompting a handful of lawsuits and a whistleblower complaint that sparked the damaging state audit.

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