/State rejects JPS plan to improve safety, recordkeeping

State rejects JPS plan to improve safety, recordkeeping

On Thursday, the state Board of Education rejected Jackson Public Schools’ plans to address deficiencies in teacher licensure, school safety and record keeping. The board stated that it will review a modified plan and reexamine it next month. Paula Vanderford is the executive director of Accreditation Staff for Education Department. She stated that the plan didn’t have enough steps in certain areas. It includes simple clarifications and adjustments to timelines. Vanderford stated that there are some standards we would like to see (JPS) specify what this implementation looks like, rather than getting a general statement. Vanderford stated that the district would evaluate graduation records by May next year. However, this wouldn’t allow enough time for students to miss any classes to finish them in time to graduate. JPS was cited by the Education Department for not providing consistent and accurate information that proved every student who graduated over the past two years had met state graduation requirements. Sherwin Johnson, spokesperson for Jackson Public Schools District, stated that interim superintendent Freddrick Murray, and Beneta Burt, school board president, will meet with the Office of Accreditation to discuss the corrective actions and timelines needed to help the District revise the CAP. The district’s accreditation status was reduced from “accredited to probation” in August as a result of the Education Department audit. Vanderford said that her department would review Standard 1 which stipulates that the school board “assigns all executive and administration duties to the superintendent, who has been properly licensed and selected in accordance with law.” Vanderford also stated that the audit revealed inconsistent policies throughout the district. The Education Department stated that the superintendent and his administration often reverse the implementation of discipline policies. The current district superintendent Cedrick Gray has resigned, so the department will need to revise the plan to ensure that the next superintendent is included. The Education Department, along with Carey Wright, the State Superintendent of Education, will meet Friday morning with JPS officials to refine the plan in order to make it ready for the board next month. Gray was cited in the April audit for allegedly having overturned principals’ discipline policies and not ensuring safe and clean schools. The audit also found numerous violations in the records of the district, as well as class instruction and documentation regarding graduation requirements. According to the report, schools had no smoke detectors, evacuation plans or fire extinguishers. Schools were also noted to have broken windows, inoperable toilets, and air conditions that were not suitable for their purpose. Officials discovered that many JPS teachers didn’t have a valid teacher license or were not properly endorsed for their subject.