- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Jackson Public School District soon will be searching for a new superintendent.

Cedrick Gray has given his intent to resign to the Board of Trustees in an executive session Friday. The announcement comes a week after the state’s second-largest school district received an F on Mississippi’s recalibrated grading system.

Board President Beneta Burt tells The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/2em0QmL ) Gray’s last day has yet to be determined. She says he will continue to serve in his role until the board agrees on a final day of employment.

The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to finalize the details of Gray’s early departure.

No indications were made of who would serve as a possible interim superintendent.

Gray received a $5,000 bonus on his $200,000 salary and a four-year contract extension on April 1, 2015.

Gray’s notice caps a tumultuous three months marked by highs and lows.

On Aug. 3, he was named Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of Superintendents. A district press release praised Gray for restoring the district’s accreditation status, which was at risk of withdrawal upon his arrival.

Two weeks later, JPS’ status was downgraded by oversight authorities, who faulted the district for safety and academic infractions, including the graduation of seniors who may not have earned all of the required credits.

The accreditation commission’s vote was preceded by a blistering audit from the state education agency in which auditors wrote, “the superintendent does not provide effective education leadership in key areas including management of district personnel, effective implementation of policies and the development of board and community relations.”

At the time, Gray assured, “the sky is not falling at Jackson Public Schools.” His optimism would be overcast by the announcement that the 28,000-student district was one of 19 rated as failing by the state.

Gray’s arrival was met with controversy. Concerns were immediately raised about an audit conducted by the Tennessee state comptroller’s office of Gray’s former district in Fayette County, Tennessee, citing fiscal misdeeds, including a reduction in cash reserves and a failure to follow competitive bidding processes. At the time, several community members told The Clarion-Ledger that they wanted the search process reopened.

Hallmarks of his tenure in Mississippi included the Alignment Jackson initiative, a collaboration between the district, the United Way of the Capital Area and the Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership dedicated to student achievement modeled after a similar program in Nashville.

According to the JPS website, Gray also guided the district to its first-ever 1:1 digital initiative, which gave all district high school students a laptop computer or access to personal computing devices.

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

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