Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Cedrick Gray Credit: Jackson Public School District

Jackson Public School District Superintendent Cedrick Gray intends to resign after four years in the district, school board President Beneta Burt announced Friday.

The announcement came during a special called school board meeting to discuss Gray and his administration’s performance in the wake of an F rating by the state and a potential downgrade of the district’s accreditation status from the state.

The board spent nearly two hours in executive session Friday evening, and when the public returned to the room, Gray was no longer seated with board members. A more rigorous accountability system led to 19 school districts being deemed failing by the state based on student achievement, test-score growth, graduation rate and other factors. JPS was one of them.

After the ratings came out, Burt said the results were “not acceptable,” and the board called a special meeting for Friday afternoon to evaluate district leaders.

Leading up to the release of the ratings, Gray regularly said the changes in state tests were unfair and placed a heavy burden on school districts.

Over the past three years, students in Mississippi have taken three different state assessments and are now being graded with an additional emphasis on the lowest-achieving students’ test-score growth.

In JPS, less than 20 percent of students are considered proficient in reading, while only 15.4 percent of its students are proficient in math.

Gray came to Jackson in 2012 from Fayette County Schools in Tennessee. He oversaw the restoration of the district to accredited status after it was downgraded following noncompliance with federal law governing students with special needs.

Last year the school board voted to extend his contract another year, citing accomplishments such as increased parent participation and a decrease in discipline incidents across the district.

Gray also initiated the Academies of Jackson in the 9th grade. The Academies aimed to create small learning groups where students take core academic subjects and electives but may also take courses related to a particular career.

He also oversaw the implementation of the 1:1 technology initiative that gave every 9th grader a MacBook Air beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Gray made $205,000 annually after being awarded a $5,000 merit-based raise last year. His last day at JPS has not yet been determined, but Burt said the board hopes to work out more details at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.

One reply on “Jackson schools superintendent resigns”

  1. This is just a start. We need many more of these “Administrators ” to be purged from our Failing and Dangerous Public School System. Anything not about the quality ,safety,and performance of our children has got to be addressed and reformed. There is nothing that is performing well and Dr. Wright absolutely needs to be the next to go and quickly.

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