JPS Superintendent testifies in contract renewal hearing - - Jackson, MS

JPS Superintendent testifies in contract renewal hearing

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

With little over five weeks before his contract expires, the superintendent for Jackson Public Schools took the stand Wednesday during his appeal process.

Dr. Lonnie Edwards testified in his effort to get board members to reconsider renewing his contract.

Dr. Edwards said he needed more than 3 years to demonstrate to the board what he could do as superintendent.

He also said he did not initially have the support of staff or the board to make changes.

The school district leader now says he has staff in curriculum and instruction to improve student performance.

"I think this time I've put together a plan, and I've put together a group of people in those very special areas that I did not have that's ready to help me carry the district toward the academic achievement that we need," Dr. Edwards said.

But school district attorney Jim Keith pointed out that Edwards received two reprimands in 2009 from the board and low ratings during evaluations that warned that his performance needed improvement, particularly regarding student achievement.

"All five board members signed off on it?", asked Jackson Public School attorney Jim Keith.

"Yes," Dr. Edwards answered.

"And in fact the last sentence of that first paragraph says failure by Edwards to achieve a significant and immediate improvement and to maintain that improvement will result in further job action with may include termination of contract," Keith continued.

"But Dr. Edwards has had to serve under two separate board within the last two and a half years and some evaluations as it relates to his performance are somewhat muddled by virtue of the fact that he's had at least 10 to 11 people attempting to evaluate him," said Dr. Edwards' attorney Dale Danks.

The board contends that Edwards failed to establish a plan for the district and did not meet goals and objectives.

"It is our hope that you will use this information and evaluation process as an opportunity to improve both your performance and our communication with the board," read Keith from a board letter to Edwards.

The superintendent was being cross examined by the board attorney when the hearing convened for the day.

The hearing will reconvene Friday at 9:00 a.m.

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