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Looming takeover: what it really looks like for JPS

The State Board of Education is meeting today to decide whether there is an emergency situation at the Jackson Public Schools.

Yesterday, the MDE Accreditation commission voted 10 to 1 that JPS was in an emergency situation and that a takeover was necessary.

However, the MDE said it would not be a takeover but rather a transformation.

“The old model, we called it conservatorship and there would be a conservator appointed to run that district,” said Pete Smith, Communications director for the Mississippi Department of Education. “Now, the new law states that a district would be put into the district of transformation and an interim superintendent would be appointed and that person’s main focus is to focus on the academics of that district.”

Smith said that if the board does rule in favor of the JPS transformation, the process would be a partnership.

“We keep hearing the word takeover, takeover, and under the old model that was the term, however, placing a district in the district of transformation is simply trying to help that district enhance the educational outcomes for those students in that district, and that is all that this would be doing,” said Smith. “We will want community involvement we will want the support of the organizations that support the school district to be involved. We would see it as a partnership to work hand in hand with anyone and everyone that wants to support Jackson Public Schools or any district that is placed in a district of transformation in terms of providing better outcomes for their students.”

Smith added that JPS would still be business as usual.

“We would expect students to be coming into class prepared to learn, we would be expecting teachers to come to class before time prepared to teach,” said Smith. “We are going to provide all of the supports to the district in the form of professional development all of those types of things to help get the district turned around. There won’t be anything different other than there will be new leadership.”

Smith said that the law dictates a district in transformation must have 5 consecutive years being rated as a C or better before the State will consider the district being turned back over to local control.

If the board votes to declare JPS as being in an emergency state, the board will then send a resolution to Governor Phil Bryant asking him to sign a declaration stating that a state of emergency exists in the Jackson Public School District.

The state of Mississippi has seen 19 previous takeovers or transformations in the history of the state.

 

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