JPS accreditation hearing underway - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

JPS accreditation hearing underway

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Jackson Public Schools have made some changes to their special education program since the problems came to light in October 2010, but not enough.

"Yes, they've done a lot of work, made progress, but until the policies and procedures are being implemented fully across the district, the district will not be able to address the needs of all the students," said Ann Moore, with the State Department of Education Office of Special Education, during a show-cause hearing Thursday.

The Office of Accreditation is trying to determine whether J-P-S should lose its accreditation over the lingering special education issues. The district is currently on probation.

During the hearing, officials stated that J-P-S at one point turned down an offer from the State Department to provide a technical support person to assist. And when department officials paid a monitoring visit to J-P-S in April 2011, they were asked to leave.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Jayne Sargent, who inherited the problem from former Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Edwards, admits some changes have been made within special education, but there's still a long way to go.

A complete reorganization plan has been accepted by the J-P-S Board of Education, and it's unclear right now if anyone will be fired.

"There are some considerations. I don't want to talk about staff at this point," Dr. Sargent says. "Everyone is under contract until the end of June, June 30. There may be some changes, certainly will be some change in role."

The Office of Accreditation will determine within 45 days whether to recommend JPS accreditation be withdrawn. If so, the State Board of Education will vote on it. If they vote yes, Governor Phil Bryant will be asked to declare a state of emergency in the Jackson Public School District, which serves roughly 3-thousand special education students. 

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