State Board of Education to decide whether to ask for official state of emergency for school district after serious violations found

Published 3:18 pm Monday, August 2, 2021

The Mississippi State Board of Education will consider on Tuesday, Aug. 3, whether to ask Gov. Tate Reeves to declare a state of emergency in the Holmes County Consolidated School District after the Commission on School Accreditation determined on Monday that an extreme emergency exists in the school district that jeopardizes the safety, security, and educational interests of the children enrolled in the schools in the district.

The Commission on School Accreditation determined an emergency exists because HCCSD has serious violations of federal and state law and accreditation standards, serious concerns regarding financial resources, inappropriate standards of governance, and a continued pattern of poor academic performance.

The HCCSD is in violation of 26 of the 32 accreditation standards that all Mississippi public school districts are required to meet. The violations are documented in the On-Site Investigative Audit of Holmes County Consolidated School District, which the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) conducted after the district reported severe financial issues. The MDE conducted the full investigative audit of all schools in HCCSD from April 27, 2021 – July 23, 2021. The MDE conducted the full investigative audit because historically, districts that have faced serious financial issues have also had numerous accreditation violations.

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. In that event, state law requires the state superintendent of education to direct the school district to immediately cease all expenditures until a financial adviser is appointed by the state superintendent. The financial adviser oversees the district’s finances effective immediately.

 

The special-called State Board meeting will begin at 10 a.m. August 3 in the Fourth Floor Board Room* of the Central High School Building, 359 N. West St., Jackson. The State Board will follow the same format as the Commission in allowing HCCSD and the MDE to address the State Board prior to its determination.