JACKSON, MISS — The Mississippi Board of Education (MBE) determined that an extreme emergency situation exists in the Oktibbeha County School District. Acting on a recommendation from the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation, the MBE voted unanimously to ask Gov. Phil Bryant to declare a state of emergency for the school district.
MDE Communications director Patrice Guilfoyle confirmed the board's decision with a press release Thursday afternoon. She also confirmed the decision affects the entire Oktibbeha County School District, not just East Oktibbeha County High School, which the MDE designated as a New Start School Sept. 13.
According to the release, the Oktibbeha County School District faces many issues that jeopardize the safety, security and educational interests of the children enrolled in its schools. The district is in violation of 29 of the 30 accreditation standards the Mississippi Department of Education reviewed. Most notably, the district has a history of poor student performance, and it has failed to report complete and accurate data on employee contracts, lists of staff, payroll reports and official board minutes.
“The academic needs of the students have not been met. East Oktibbeha County High School has been classified as failing for the last three years with a QDI of less than 100 over that time period,” Chairman of the State Board of Education Dr. Wayne Gann said. “In addition, the leadership of the district has failed to resolve lingering accreditation issues.”
A state of emergency would allow the MBE to:
• Remove the Superintendent and School Board Members
• Place a conservator in the district
• Request funds from the Legislative Emergency School Fund, and
• Address budget needs
Officials from the Mississippi Department of Education will meet with the administration, faculty and staff of the Oktibbeha County School District on Monday, Oct. 1 – followed by an evening meeting with parents and community leaders to communicate a plan of action to assist the district in meeting accreditation requirements.