- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Department of Education’s new budget includes a request for $1 million to focus on cheating in the public schools.

Department spokesman Pete Smith told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1nDVxkH) the agency has no money set aside for such investigations and had to borrow money from other areas. The agency since May has been looking into cheating in the Clarksdale Municipal School District.

Lawmakers will have to approve the specific request. The Legislature convenes in January.

The Department of Education signed two contracts with Utah-based Caveon Test Security in the past two months totaling nearly $300,000 to investigate allegations of cheating at Clarksdale’s Heidelberg Elementary School.

The investigation recently entered its second phase, which includes a detailed accreditation audit.

State Superintendent Carey Wright said earlier this month that she’s considering other investigations into schools whose statewide assessment scores also raised red flags. Although she didn’t mention specific sites, she said it’s a decision the state will make jointly with Caveon.

State Board of Education members approved the new line item at a meeting Wednesday in Jackson.

The board approved a 2016 budget request seeking $370 million over the $2.49 billion lawmakers allotted in the budget that began July 1. That includes money for programs beyond the Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com


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