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Department of Education investigating Canton teacher

The Mississippi Department of Education confirmed that the department is in the midst of an investigation involving Canton teacher Daphne Sims after receiving a report on May 3, however, no details have been released regarding the scope of MDE’s investigation.

“I cannot say much, just that there is an open investigation,” MDE Chief of Communications and Government Relations Pete Smith said.

The investigation comes in the wake of the firing of former superintendent for the Canton Public School District Cassandra Williams. Williams was fired on May 21 in a “specially called meeting” after being with the district for nine years, two of which she served as superintendent.

News Mississippi has attempted to reach out to Williams and her attorney, John Christopher of Flowood, but neither were available for comment.

After four days of silence, Williams informed Mississippi News Now in an exclusive interview  that she had been wrongfully terminated due mostly to an incident with Sims, who is also a member of the Canton Board of Aldermen.

In the interview, Williams said that things really began to change once changes were made to the school board, specifically the election of Courtney Rainey. Williams alleged that Rainey wanted her fired, and that she schemed to have Sims hired to replace her.

According to Williams, Sims was previously involved in a “situation” with a fifth grade student that was reported to the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, and the Mississippi Department of Education. Reports say that disciplinary action against Sims was taken by the school’s principal, but details surrounding the incident have not been released.

While the investigation into Sims continues, Williams continues to fight. Williams and Christopher are now requesting an open post-termination hearing and have also questioned whether three board members actually live in the Canton Public School District.  

Under Williams, the percentage of third graders passing increased from 87% to 95.7% within one year, and the school system improved as a whole, jumping from a ‘F’ to a ‘D.’  

The Canton Public School District has announced that former superintendent Dwight Luckett will return to oversee the district in the time on an interim basis. Luckett, most notable for taking the district from a ‘F’ to a ‘C,’ retired in 2014 before being succeeded by Ike Haynes. Haynes was let go in the fall of 2015, giving way to the hiring of Williams.

More than 3,000 students are currently enrolled in the Canton Public School System.

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