An “extreme emergency” exists in the Holmes County Consolidated School District.
According to the Commission on School Accreditation, the emergency “jeopardizes the safety, security, and educational interests of the children enrolled in the schools in the district.” The district was found to be in violation of 26 of the 32 accreditation standards that all Mississippi public school districts are required to meet.
A report from the Mississippi Department of Education outlines that, for the 2020-21 school year, the HCCSD employed more than 120 teachers who did not hold a valid Mississippi Teacher’s License or lacked proper endorsements for the subject they were teaching.
Additional allegations, among many others, in the report include:
- The HCCSD failed to comply with federal and state requirements for the operation of the Child Nutrition Program.
- The HCCSD failed to provide clean and sanitary facilities in a safe and secure environment in all seven (7) schools in the District, the Career and Technical Education Center, and the Graduates Within Reach Academy.
- Thirty-one (31) graduates at Holmes County Central High School failed to meet the minimum number of Carnegie units required for graduation.
- Six (6) of the seven (7) schools audited in the HCCSD failed to provide the required immunization documentation.
- The Superintendent(s) and Board failed to develop, maintain, and implement local board policies that comply with State and Federal statutes and State Board of Education Policies.
- The HCCSD failed to provide evidence of counseling services for students in the alternative school program.
- Based on the findings outlined in the audit report for Process Standard 17.4, the total questioned cost for a special education program is approximately $984,000.00.
The Commission on School Accreditation determined an emergency exists because HCCSD has serious violations of federal and state law and accreditation standards, serious concerns regarding financial resources, inappropriate standards of governance, and a continued pattern of poor academic performance.
As a result, the Mississippi State Board of Education will consider on August 3 whether to ask Governor Tate Reeves to declare a state of emergency in the district.
MDE appointed a financial adviser for the district on April 15 after the Office of the State Auditor issued the State Board a “disclaimer of opinion” letter. In that event, state law requires the state superintendent of education to direct the school district to immediately cease all expenditures until a financial adviser is appointed by the state superintendent. The financial adviser oversees the district’s finances effective immediately.