For Immediate Release: August 3, 2021
JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) determined today that an extreme emergency situation exists in the Holmes County Consolidated School District. Acting on a recommendation from the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation, the SBE voted to ask Gov. Tate Reeves to declare a state of emergency for the school district.
The Holmes County Consolidated School District (HCCSD) has significant issues that jeopardize the safety, security and educational interests of the children enrolled in its schools. The district 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 the Holmes County Consolidated School District (HCCSD), 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.
The SBE 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 as related to the issues of noncompliance for the HCCSD.
“State law requires the Board to intervene when conditions in a district reach a crisis level that jeopardizes the safety, security and educational interests of students,” said Rosemary Aultman, SBE chair. “Every student in the Holmes County Consolidated School District deserves a safe, secure and high-quality learning environment; therefore, the Board has carried out its responsibility.”
A state of emergency would make HCCSD a District of Transformation, which would result in the following:
- The district’s accreditation could be withdrawn
- The SBE would appoint an interim superintendent
- The local school board would be temporarily disbanded
- The SBE would become the governing body until the district is returned to local board leadership
- An interim superintendent would remain in HCCSD until the district has sustained a grade of C or higher for five years.
- An interim superintendent would work with district staff to correct all accreditation violations, while making raising student achievement the primary focus
If the governor agrees with the SBE, officials from the MDE will meet with the administration, faculty and staff of HCCSD after the declaration, followed by evening meetings with parents and community leaders. The SBE requested the governor declare a state of emergency immediately. The SBE’s request will expire after August 17, 2021.
Jean Cook, APR
Director of Communication