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State Board of Education Awaiting Governor’s Approval to Take Over Tunica County School District

JACKSON, Miss.- After a day full of debating, begging, and pleading, the Accreditation Commission and the State Board of Education both agree that the Tunica County School District is in a state of emergency. The initial meeting by the commission resulted in a unanimous vote, after representatives from the department of education cited multiple discrepancies with the school district.

After the State Board of Education heard the arguments from both parties and agreed that the district was in a state of emergency, it now goes to Governor Bryant. If he approves their recommendation, the state will take over the school district, appointing Margaret Pulley to act as Conservator.

The school district failed to meet 25 out of 31 accreditation standards. Representatives of the school district begged and pleaded with the board for more time to get their issues straightened out. They even hired a consultant, Vance Siggers, last Friday upon the resignation of Superintendent Stephen Chandler. Siggers asked the board for 60 to 90 days and gave his word that they would have things fixed in that time. Ashley McKay is a concerned parent of the Tunica County School District, with one going into second grade and another going into preschool. She is hoping that the state will take over the district. That seemed to be the consensus opinion of most parents in attendance on Wednesday.

“How can we get out of it in sixty to ninety days, when it has taken us three years to get to this place,” asked McKay.

McKay was formerly the Parent-Teacher Organization president for an elementary school in Tunica County, and she says the slacking off from the school board has trickled down to the parents.

“I’ve seen how parental envolvment has slacked off,” McKay added. “We used to call a PTO meeting and have a hundred parents, now we’re lucky to get five.”

McKay also said that the reign of Superintendent Chandler was viewed by many as a “dictatorship.”

Here the full interview with Ashley McKay here:

Charla Lofton is a retired Tunica County school counselor, and she says Chandler was just the surface of the problem with the school district.

“We have had issues and issues,” Lofton said. “People have been fired illegally. There has been a lot of sexual harassment. Children have suffered illegally.”

Lofton also said that the individualized education program for the children was handled incorrectly.

“They went through a system, where everybody looked at them,” Lofton added. They were all on the floors. It’s against the office of civil rights, federal, and state laws.”

She said that the teachers, children, and parents’ rights have all been violated.

Here’s the full interview with Charla Lofton:

One thing that should be noted is that, since he resigned on his own accord, Chandler will be allowed to run for Superintendent again if he chose to ran.

Here’s Paula Vanderford, director of MDE’s accreditation office, giving her opening statement:

And here’s Vance Siggers presenting his argument to the accreditation committee:

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