State set to meet about Aberdeen school system
Published: April 18,2012
Tags: Aberdeen, Blake Wilson, Drew, education, Gov. Phil Bryant, Hazlehurst, Indianola, Mississippi, Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi Economic Council, Mississippi's Commission on School Accreditation, North Panola, Okolona, Royce Stephens, Sunflower County, Tate County, The Associated Press
Mississippi’s Commission on School Accreditation is scheduled to meet Wednesday in Jackson and appears poised to declare a state of emergency in the 1,400-student Aberdeen district, which educates students in parts of Monroe County.
Any such declaration would then move on to the state Board of Education and Gov. Phil Bryant before becoming effective.
It’s unclear what’s prompting the meeting, although in an unrelated discussion of school finances earlier this year, a state official said Aberdeen had trouble making payroll in December. The state’s academic performance rating system has Aberdeen on “academic watch,” usually not low enough to prompt a takeover.
The language in Wednesday’s agenda indicates an “extreme emergency situation regarding the safety, security, and educational interests of the children enrolled.” Such language lines up with state rules on one of the reasons that can prompt a takeover.
Mississippi Department of Education spokesmen refused requests Tuesday from The Associated Press to discuss the situation or release in advance a copy of materials sent to commission members. They said lawyers were still working on the full materials that commission members would receove Wednesday.
Seven of the state’s 152 school districts are now under state control: Drew, Hazlehurst, Indianola, North Panola, Okolona, Sunflower County and Tate County.
Blake Wilson, the chief executive of the Mississippi Economic Council who sits on the commission as a citizen representative, pushed for more openness in a commission proceeding earlier this year when the Jackson city system’s accreditation was under scrutiny. He said Tuesday he was told not to release any information before the meeting.
Royce Stephens, president of the Aberdeen school board, said he plans to appear Wednesday, but said he didn’t know why exactly state officials were trying to remove the current superintendent and board.
“I haven’t received any information,” Stephens said. “They told me I had 10 minutes to speak.”
Stephens acknowledged the district had faced accreditation and financial issues, but said current leaders are moving to remedy the situation.
“We can take care of our own problems here if given a chance,” Stephens said.
State officials have expressed concern that districts released from state control may slip back into their bad habits, prompting a second takeover.
Laws are moving through the Legislature that could let the state abolish or forcibly merge districts that are taken over for a second time, although opposition has bogged that proposal down. Another proposal would allow the accrediting commission to withdraw accreditation, allowing students to transfer elsewhere and ending interscholastic sports in a district. The state also wants to merge the Drew, Indianola and Sunflower County schools into one district.
To sign up for Mississippi Business Daily Updates, click here.
FOLLOW THE MBJ ON TWITTERMy Tweets
Top Posts & Pages
- DAVID DALLAS: You say “Obama”, I say “Ebola”
- Judge gets more time to fight efforts to remove him from office
- Voters to decide whether hunting, fishing is constitutional right
- MARTIN WILLOUGHBY: Andrew Adams helps grow Addicus
- Coast cleanup nets 1,600 bags of trash — and a watermelon patch
- State's bad bridges continue to raise concerns among officials
- Number of visitors to Natchez Trace makes big jump
- MISSISSIPPI RISING: Time to sell the image
- Epidemiologist: State's hospitals can identify, isolate Ebola cases
- C Spire wins national award, cash prize for marketing analytics