/Jackson Public Schools put on probation

Jackson Public Schools put on probation

On Tuesday, the state changed Jackson Public School District’s status from “probation” to “probation” following an audit of 22 schools which found that the district was not in compliance with a majority state accreditation standards. Paula Vanderford (executive director of the state Education Department’s accreditation office) stated that the main reason for the downgrade was two areas: maintaining safety in schools and meeting graduation requirements. According to the report, schools had no fire extinguishers or evacuation plans. The schools also had broken windows, inoperable toilets, and air conditions that were not suitable for evacuation plans. Also, the audit found that the district didn’t have any records showing that graduates had passed all four high school exit exams or completed the required Carnegie units. The Commission on School Accreditation unanimously voted to downgrade the status of the district. The majority of members of the Commission on School Accreditation voted unanimously to approve a complete audit of the district by Mississippi Department of Education. The audit that led to the downgrading of accreditation was performed on 22 schools, which included all Jackson public high schools. These three statuses are for school districts: withdrawn, probation, and accredited. The state will place Jackson Public Schools on probation for the second time in five year. Cedrick Gray, Jackson Superintendent, attempted to address the Commission. However Lee Childress, Chairman of the Commission, barred Gray from speaking as the district didn’t request a hearing within 10 days after receiving the findings. Gray stated that he didn’t want to be seen as opposing the state department. Gray said that while you are trying to protect your rights, you also want to ensure your voice is heard. He said that he still believes that we didn’t have enough information so we couldn’t make a compelling argument to not place us on probation. Gray stated that they didn’t have enough information. Gray also said that while Gray agreed with some findings, others were based on subjective criteria. “One thing noted was that district didn’t have any code of conduct. Gray stated that we have had a code for conduct for many years. We want to find out where you looked when you didn’t see it. As one of six reasons for the district’s violation of Standard 1.2, the audit found that the code was not included in the student handbook. This is a statement that states that school board policies are compliant with federal and state statutes. Gray also mentioned in the audit references to confidential interviews and surveys, which Gray said he would like to see. The district responded to Gray’s audit by laying out short- and long-term solutions to some violations. These included replacing smoke detectors at schools by October, posting evacuation plans by December, and replacing fire extinguishers in June 2017. Vanderford stated that the Education Department had found many inadequacies in the district’s responses, especially those related to school safety, transportation, and facilities. Since the June findings were made public and Tuesday’s meeting of the Commission on Accreditation, the district has been able to correct two violations. It still violates 19 other standards. Within 60 days, the district must submit a plan of corrective action and a timeline. The report states that if the district does not address the problems within the timeframe, it will be removed from accreditation. Sanctions from the state Education Department include the suspension of school participation in any type of athletic activity for up to half the regular season, speech and debate, and choral music and bands. All post-season activities are suspended and the school district cannot hold any special games or parades, tournaments, or competitions. The governor could also be recommended by the state Board of Education to declare a state of emergency at the school. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think. Republish this Story