For Immediate Release: July 19, 2013
Mississippi Board of Education Takes First Step to Reconstitute Hazlehurst City School District
JACKSON, Miss. –The Mississippi Board of Education voted Friday to begin the process to reconstitute the Hazlehurst City School District, which essentially returns the district back to the community.
Hazlehurst was one of three school districts the Board voted to begin the process of exiting from conservatorship and returning them to their communities. The other two were Tate County School District and North Panola School District.
“Overall, conservators have done a good job of getting these districts back on track,” said Dr. Larry Drawdy, interim deputy state superintendent of education.
In May 2008, the Board of Education voted to ask former Gov. Haley Barbour to declare a state of emergency in the Hazlehurst City School District. The district faced many issues that jeopardized the safety, security and educational interests of the students enrolled in the schools. Most notably, the problems included serious leadership, management and instructional concerns and violations of accreditation, board policy and state law.
“Once these impairments have been substantially corrected, the state can begin the process to return the district back to the community,” Drawdy said.
Currently, the district has met academic growth for the last two school years and moved from an “F” rating to a “D” rating.
State Rep. Greg Holloway, D-Hazlehurst, said he appreciates the hard work and commitment of the Mississippi Department of Education, the Board of Education, Drawdy and Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent of education, in putting the district in the position to be returned to the community.
“It’s very important because the school system is an integral part of the community. Without a good school system, then the total community, including the business community, will suffer a great loss. We’re excited to be in a position to receive the district back, and we look forward to continuing to work with the state department to help us make this transition,” he said.
With the Board’s vote, a request will now be made to the Governor’s Office to issue a proclamation that the Hazlehurst City School District is no longer in an emergency situation. As part of the transition, the Board of Education will notify the mayor and city council of its action and will request the appointment of five school board members.
Two board members must come from the area outlying the city and must be eligible to run for the position. The appointed board members will fill unexpired terms, allowing for staggered terms, with the exception of the two board members from the outlying area who can only serve until the next general election.
Conservator Henry Dorsey will remain in full charge of the district operations until a superintendent, appointed by the new board, takes office. Local operation with a school board and superintendent is scheduled to be completed on or before July 1, 2014. A tentative timeline can be found here.