The State Board of Education (SBE) has voted to ask Governor Tate Reeves to declare a state of emergency in the Holmes County Consolidated School District (HCCSD).
This follows the determination by the Commission on School Accreditation (CSA) that an “extreme emergency” exists within that district. According to the CSA, the district is in violation of of 26 of the 32 accreditation standards that all Mississippi public school districts are required to meet.
“State law requires the Board to intervene when conditions in a district reach a crisis level that jeopardizes the safety, security and educational interests of students,” SBE chair Rosemary Aultman said. “Every student in the Holmes County Consolidated School District deserves a safe, secure and high-quality learning environment; therefore, the Board has carried out its responsibility.”
Among the more glaring allegations, the Department of Education report claims that 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.
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.
A state of emergency would make HCCSD a ‘District of Transformation,’ which would result in the following:
- The district’s accreditation could be withdrawn
- The SBE would appoint an interim superintendent
- The local school board would be temporarily disbanded
- The SBE would become the governing body until the district is returned to local board leadership
- An interim superintendent would remain in HCCSD until the district has sustained a grade of C or higher for five years.
- An interim superintendent would work with district staff to correct all accreditation violations, while making raising student achievement the primary focus
If the governor agrees with the SBE, officials from the MDE will meet with the administration, faculty and staff of HCCSD after the declaration, followed by evening meetings with parents and community leaders. The SBE requested the governor declare a state of emergency immediately. The SBE’s request will expire after August 17, 2021.