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.