Mississippi panel recommends takeover of Noxubee schools

MGN Online

With leaders of an eastern Mississippi school district themselves admitting they won't be able to pay their bills by August, the state took the first step Wednesday toward taking the schools over.

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 9:09 AM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 9:51 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — With leaders of an eastern Mississippi school district themselves admitting they won't be able to pay their bills by August, the state took the first step Wednesday toward taking the schools over.

The state Commission on School Accreditation voted unanimously to recommend that the state declare an emergency in the Noxubee County school district, although district leaders asked for more time fix problems.

"In our district, there is learning occurring. We're serving boys and girls, just like any other boys and girls across the state who deserve a great education. But it takes time," Superintendent Roger Liddell said, arguing that academic performance in the F-rated school district was improving.

That recommendation moves forward for another hearing Thursday before the state Board of Education. If the board approves, Gov. Phil Bryant would have to sign an emergency declaration dissolving the school board and removing Liddell. An interim superintendent appointed by the board would run the school without a local school board. The state currently controls the Leflore County and Tunica County school districts under such arrangements.

State officials say they began examining the 1,600-student district when Noxubee officials called to seek a loan, citing cash flow problems. The resulting state report found lots of other problems, with a Mississippi Department of Education report finding Noxubee schools violate 26 of 32 state accrediting standards. The district asked to have until March 2019 to fix those problems, but it's unclear how the school system would survive financially in coming months if it received more time.

"This district has excuses, but today, they remain in serious noncompliance," Assistant Attorney General Erin Meyer argued on behalf of the state.

Chief Accountability Officer Paula Vanderford said the state can only loan the Noxubee school system money if Bryant declares a state of emergency.

Vanderford said after the meeting that financial problems alone would be enough for the state to take over, but noted the state found widespread problems. They include allegations that:

— Nearly 30 percent of teachers worked last year without licenses or taught outside their licensed field, with questions about whether criminal background checks were being performed on any employees.

— Poor record-keeping allowed 24 seniors to graduate this spring without their records showing they had passed required courses or tests.

— School board members improperly interfered in the day-to-day operations of the school.

— The superintendent told staff members to falsify records, managed through fear and intimidation and overturned disciplinary decisions made by principals and other employees.

— The district failed to prepare federally required individualized education plans for some special education students or prepared deeply deficient plans.

— The district hasn't had a completed financial audit since the 2015 budget year.

— The district couldn't lock all its school doors in case of an emergency and is teaching prekindergarten classes in an unsecured area that also houses the district's central office.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 29684

Reported Deaths: 1103
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds238239
DeSoto148616
Madison126734
Jones110449
Neshoba98171
Lauderdale90079
Rankin88812
Forrest85142
Harrison84210
Scott76215
Copiah59216
Jackson58416
Leake57019
Holmes54441
Wayne53513
Lee53218
Oktibbeha53226
Washington5319
Warren49618
Yazoo4936
Leflore48049
Lowndes47212
Lincoln44334
Lamar4407
Grenada4325
Pike40712
Monroe38830
Lafayette3774
Attala35823
Sunflower3467
Newton3389
Covington3345
Panola3256
Bolivar32114
Adams29318
Simpson2833
Pontotoc2736
Marion27011
Tate2709
Chickasaw26918
Claiborne25610
Jasper2566
Winston2546
Noxubee2538
Pearl River24832
Clay24710
Marshall2173
Smith21611
Clarke20524
Coahoma1916
Union1919
Walthall1804
Kemper17714
Lawrence1701
Yalobusha1677
Carroll16411
Itawamba1348
Humphreys1329
Calhoun1284
Tippah12811
Hancock12613
Webster12610
Montgomery1242
Tallahatchie1224
Jefferson Davis1094
Prentiss1023
Greene1018
Jefferson993
Tunica933
Wilkinson929
Amite892
George783
Tishomingo741
Quitman730
Choctaw724
Perry654
Alcorn631
Stone571
Franklin412
Sharkey340
Benton300
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 41362

Reported Deaths: 983
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4802152
Montgomery3947103
Mobile3904134
Tuscaloosa218842
Marshall168010
Lee130237
Madison12717
Shelby117623
Morgan10475
Walker90524
Franklin87814
Dallas8689
Elmore86414
Baldwin8289
Etowah70713
DeKalb6945
Butler62328
Chambers61227
Tallapoosa58369
Autauga56012
Russell5190
Unassigned50323
Lauderdale4736
Limestone4660
Lowndes46321
Houston4614
Cullman4354
Pike4175
Colbert3836
Coffee3702
Bullock3679
St. Clair3472
Barbour3452
Covington3437
Escambia3326
Calhoun3225
Hale30621
Marengo30011
Talladega3007
Wilcox2898
Sumter28412
Clarke2726
Dale2680
Jackson2632
Winston2463
Monroe2312
Chilton2282
Blount2261
Pickens2226
Marion21413
Randolph2019
Conecuh1977
Choctaw19512
Bibb1861
Greene1838
Macon1819
Perry1621
Henry1313
Crenshaw1253
Lawrence1050
Washington1047
Cherokee857
Geneva780
Lamar751
Fayette671
Clay622
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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