- Associated Press - Sunday, May 7, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi’s second-largest school district is at risk of state takeover because of problems meeting accreditation standards.

Internal audits of Jackson Public Schools showed continuing problems in several areas related to teacher instruction and safety, The Clarion-Ledger reported (https://on.thec-l.com/2p5e54C).

Ann Moore is a consultant with Bailey Education Group, a Ridgeland company hired by JPS to help the district comply with standards. Moore told the school board Thursday each school has at least one unlicensed teacher, and some licensed teachers are applying for vacancies but are not being hired.

“You’re identifying qualified applicants. But they don’t get hired anywhere in the district,” Moore said. “This is one of your bigger issues.”

Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray said some licensed teachers might not be hired because of issues with background checks.

JPS’ accreditation was downgraded last August after state monitors found the district was in violation of 19 accrediting standards, involving academics, safety, transportation, governance and record-keeping. Those citations stemmed from a review of roughly a third of JPS schools.

Cedrick Gray announced his intent to resign as JPS superintendent in October and was gone by Nov. 16. Murray was named interim.

Murray said Thursday that up to one-third of buses are late in getting children to school. Several drivers have taken on more than one route to address the problem, but Murray said the district lacks the appropriate number of buses and drivers.

Moore also said the internal reviews “consistently show a pattern of non-compliance” concerning teacher lesson plans. MDE faulted several elementary schools for problems with lesson plans in its initial audit. Moore did not say whether the schools where the problems were occurring were the same. In its corrective action plan, JPS told the state that each teacher would receive a curriculum binder. Educators would have to keep copies of the current week’s lesson plans in the binder.

JPS’ timeline for correcting all problems found by state audits was approved by state education officials. But state Superintendent of Education Carey Wright has expressed concern about the district’s plan “lacking urgency.”

At a board meeting in December, she warned that failure to operate the corrective plan with fidelity could warrant the state’s harshest sanction - an emergency takeover.

Asked whether he thought the progress was lagging, Murray said the hiring of the consulting group shows JPS has a sense of urgency.

“These things that have been ongoing for years just don’t happen overnight,” Murray said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide