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Tunica County School District attempts to transition back to local control

Photo courtesy of Tunica County School District/Facebook.

Five Tunica County residents have been appointed by the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) to serve as advisory board members for the Tunica County School District (TCSD).

In 2015, the district was placed under state conservatorship by the SBE after violating 25 of the 31 accreditation standards required by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE). Accreditation audits found serious deficiencies in special education, federal programs, instructional programs, career technical education, and district governance.

Now, the district is attempting to transition back to local community control with the newly appointed board members.

Each individual will serve in an advisory role to SBE-appointed TCSD interim superintendent Dr. Margie Pulley during calendar year 2023 and begin serving as voting school board members on January 1, 2024.

The district’s new board members include the following:

  • District 1 – Evelyn W. Hubbard, a native of Tunica and longtime pastor of the Commerce Boulevard Christian Church.
  • District 2 – Clifton Johnson, currently a New York Life Insurance agent who previously served as a senior auditor for the State of Mississippi Department of Audit and as chief financial officer and county administrator for Tunica County.
  • District 3 – Carol Dunaway Gill, a lifelong resident of Tunica and retiree after 41 years in private business with experience in personnel recruitment, evaluation, and professional development.
  • District 4 – Marcus Autry, a 21-year veteran teacher, coach, principal, and central office administrator who currently works in the South Panola School District.
  • District 5 – Dr. Valarie Davis, a retiree with 15 years of experience as a teacher, principal, and central office administrator.

Since 2015, the district’s accountability grade improved to a C in 2015-16 after a four-year track record of D and F grades. The district further improved its grade to a B in 2021-22.

“The new Tunica County School District advisory board will assist Dr. Pulley throughout 2023 as the district takes steps to move back to local governance,” Dr. Kim Benton, state superintendent of education, interim said. “An effective advisory board is critical to maintaining the success of the Tunica County School District and ensuring students continue to receive the high-quality education they deserve.”

As of now, four other school districts are under state control by the SBE: Noxubee County School District, Holmes County Consolidated School District, Humphreys County School District, and Yazoo City School District.

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