Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Cedrick Gray

Jackson Public Schools paid former Superintendent Cedrick Gray $195,000 at the time he resigned, school district records show.

Little else is known about Gray’s resignation. School officials have declined to release details of his departure or payments made to him.

The district’s accounts payable list of claims document provided by JPS to Mississippi Today shows Gray was paid $195,000 between Oct. 22 and Nov. 4. The school board approved the document at its Nov. 15 meeting.

School Board President Beneta Burt announced Gray’s resignation on Oct. 28. The move came in the wake of an F rating by the state’s accountability system and a potential downgrade of the school district’s accreditation status.

Gray’s annual salary was $205,000, and his four-year contract was renewed by the board in April 2015. The board also awarded Gray a $5,000 annual increase based on accomplishments such as increased parent participation and a decrease in discipline incidents across the district.

When asked whether part of the terms and conditions of Gray’s resignation was paying out the rest of his contract for the year, Burt said that was incorrect. She referred all questions to the school district’s attorney.

JPS attorney JoAnne Shepherd said she could not provide details of the settlement.

An attempt to reach Gray during his last days with the district was not successful.

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.

The district’s accreditation status is threatened after an April audit by the Mississippi Department of Education included allegations that Gray often overturned principals’ implementation of discipline policies and had not ensured safe and clean school facilities. Other violations included extensive problems with the district’s records, class instruction and the lack of documentation around graduation requirements.

The report showed that schools were regularly without fire extinguishers, evacuation plans and smoke detectors. Broken windows, air conditions and inoperable toilets were noted in the schools as well, the report showed.

The State Board of Education rejected the district’s plan to correct the deficiencies last month, saying there were not enough specifics in the plan. JPS is currently revising the plan with the help of the state education department, and it will go before the Board of Education again this month.

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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.