For Immediate Release: September 13, 2013
State Board Votes to Ask Governor to Declare States of Emergency in Claiborne, Leflore Districts
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Board of Education (MBE) determined that an extreme emergency situation exists in the Claiborne County School District and Leflore County School District. The Board decided to grant the Yazoo City Municipal School District a delay in the transformation of the Yazoo City High School into a new start school until March 2014, contingent on certain conditions.
Acting on recommendations from the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation (Commission), the MBE voted unanimously to ask Gov. Phil Bryant to declare states of emergency for the Leflore County and Claiborne County school districts. Both districts have demonstrated a pattern of poor academic performance, as well as violations of accreditation standards that jeopardize the safety, security and educational interests of the children enrolled in the schools.
A state of emergency would allow the MBE to:
- Remove the superintendent and school board members
- Place a conservator in the district
- Request funds from the Legislative Emergency School Fund, and
- Address budget needs.
In Leflore County, four of its five schools have been labeled as failing for two consecutive years. The decision on Claiborne County was based on findings related to serious violations of accreditation standards and state law. In August, the Board remanded a decision by the Commission to withdraw the district’s accreditation and asked members to consider whether an extreme emergency existed, mainly based on the relationship between the Claiborne County superintendent and the district’s school board.
“The Board takes very seriously any hindrances to the boys and girls of this state receiving the opportunity to learn and to thrive in school. The educational interests and safety of students are paramount in our responsibilities as Board members,” said Dr. Wayne Gann, chairman of the Board.
Gann said the difference between the Yazoo City district and the Claiborne and Leflore districts was that Yazoo City had developed a detailed plan of action that had been partially implemented to correct deficiencies. “We feel confident that with the leadership the district has now and the leadership of the MDE, they have a reasonable chance of improving,” he said.
In Yazoo City, all of the schools have been designated as failing in the 2013 accountability results, and the district’s high school has been labeled as failing for three consecutive years, which is one of the criteria under the new start law that allows the MDE to operate the school. An agreement for the district to come into full compliance with all accreditation standards must be signed by Oct. 4. Details of the agreement include:
- The withdrawal of district accreditation for the 2013-14 school year and the district waives any right to a hearing
- The state superintendent will appoint an administrator for a Corrective Action Plan (CAP), a financial advisor and external consultants
- The district must ensure that academic, attendance, safety and accreditation concerns are addressed and resolved
- The district must work collaboratively with the technical assistance team.