- Associated Press - Friday, January 15, 2016

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) - Massachusetts education officials are calling for a state takeover of Southbridge public schools.

Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommended Friday that the school district be downgraded to a Level 5, or chronically underperforming designation. If the recommendation is approved by the state board of education, the district would be placed under state receivership.

Chester cited “low academic performance, low graduation rates and unstable leadership” in the Southbridge schools.

A recent review found 34 percent of middle and high school students failed at least one course in 2015, and 19 percent of students were suspended at least once last year.

Southbridge is about 60 miles west of Boston, with a population of just below 17,000.

Lawrence and Holyoke are the only other Massachusetts school districts currently under state receivership.

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