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: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7823176
DeSoto676778
Harrison490283
Jackson439383
Rankin385986
Madison375793
Lee349079
Forrest298078
Jones285384
Washington253799
Lafayette244042
Lauderdale2398134
Lamar219038
Bolivar199477
Oktibbeha197654
Neshoba1820111
Lowndes175562
Panola167638
Leflore163287
Sunflower158849
Warren153255
Monroe146572
Pontotoc145219
Pike137256
Lincoln136856
Marshall136226
Copiah135736
Coahoma124036
Scott123829
Grenada120638
Yazoo119933
Simpson119549
Union116025
Leake113940
Holmes113760
Tate113639
Itawamba111325
Pearl River110559
Adams105243
Prentiss102919
Wayne99421
Alcorn96712
George95718
Covington94525
Marion93342
Tippah86521
Newton84927
Chickasaw83225
Winston82621
Tallahatchie82525
Tishomingo79741
Hancock78727
Attala78126
Clarke72750
Clay68421
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61812
Noxubee59617
Smith58516
Claiborne53416
Montgomery53123
Tunica52317
Yalobusha51314
Lawrence50414
Perry48423
Carroll46812
Greene45918
Stone45514
Amite42013
Humphreys41916
Quitman4176
Jefferson Davis40011
Webster36613
Wilkinson33120
Kemper32115
Benton3194
Sharkey28014
Jefferson27110
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1064
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22720374
Mobile14405314
Tuscaloosa10066137
Montgomery9820196
Madison907894
Shelby715361
Lee646165
Baldwin644369
Marshall431048
Calhoun416059
Etowah412249
Morgan400033
Houston365532
DeKalb325428
Elmore312852
St. Clair283842
Limestone273630
Walker269993
Talladega259135
Cullman231024
Lauderdale212540
Jackson205515
Autauga202130
Franklin201731
Colbert193330
Russell19053
Blount187325
Dallas186027
Chilton182632
Escambia171428
Coffee16829
Covington166629
Dale163851
Chambers133043
Pike131313
Tallapoosa129587
Clarke127317
Marion105029
Butler99840
Barbour9969
Marengo98222
Winston90613
Geneva8447
Lawrence81131
Pickens81117
Randolph80514
Bibb80114
Hale74830
Cherokee72314
Clay72212
Lowndes70228
Henry6386
Bullock63717
Monroe63610
Washington62312
Crenshaw59830
Perry5816
Wilcox55912
Fayette55713
Conecuh55613
Cleburne5327
Macon53020
Sumter46821
Lamar4595
Choctaw38712
Greene34016
Coosa1993
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