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.

Cases: 297321

Reported Deaths: 6805
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19814231
Hinds18949395
Harrison16886282
Rankin12842265
Jackson12750234
Lee9720163
Madison9516204
Jones8035148
Forrest7289138
Lauderdale6872228
Lowndes6061140
Lamar593381
Lafayette5767114
Washington5232130
Bolivar4630124
Oktibbeha443095
Panola433698
Pearl River4212132
Warren4144115
Pontotoc411071
Marshall405995
Monroe3996129
Union397174
Neshoba3848171
Lincoln3624104
Hancock352978
Leflore3400121
Sunflower320986
Tate303974
Pike302697
Scott296171
Alcorn292763
Yazoo292066
Itawamba290675
Coahoma283069
Tippah280065
Copiah279959
Simpson277581
Prentiss271258
Marion258878
Wayne255641
Leake254172
Covington250280
Grenada248878
Adams235778
George232745
Newton232753
Winston222179
Jasper214145
Tishomingo213266
Attala206971
Chickasaw201954
Holmes182870
Clay179452
Stone173429
Tallahatchie171739
Clarke170773
Calhoun158628
Smith153833
Yalobusha145736
Greene128133
Walthall125441
Montgomery123540
Noxubee123431
Perry123235
Lawrence121421
Carroll119425
Amite112435
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99824
Claiborne99030
Benton94024
Humphreys93128
Kemper91423
Quitman77514
Franklin76420
Choctaw70117
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62727
Sharkey49217
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 499411

Reported Deaths: 10149
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson719951403
Mobile36396741
Madison32674469
Tuscaloosa24391423
Montgomery22789523
Shelby22250219
Baldwin19915289
Lee15070161
Calhoun13961296
Morgan13785255
Etowah13413327
Marshall11458215
Houston10121264
Elmore9509190
Limestone9435139
St. Clair9050228
Cullman8993183
Lauderdale8628214
DeKalb8507175
Talladega7643165
Walker6600260
Jackson6551104
Autauga634492
Blount6252128
Colbert6007121
Coffee5261104
Dale4680107
Russell407534
Franklin400779
Covington3996107
Chilton3911104
Escambia379473
Tallapoosa3637143
Clarke344553
Chambers3432111
Dallas3428142
Pike292973
Marion288796
Lawrence285787
Winston258568
Bibb246058
Marengo244657
Geneva240270
Pickens225757
Barbour213851
Hale212569
Fayette202657
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178140
Monroe166739
Randolph165141
Washington157036
Macon147845
Crenshaw146755
Clay146254
Cleburne140141
Lamar133933
Lowndes133151
Wilcox123225
Bullock117736
Conecuh107224
Perry106427
Sumter100832
Coosa90324
Greene88732
Choctaw55723
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