Cheating Clarksdale principal’s license yanked for 20 years

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The state on Thursday suspended the educator license of former Heidelberg Elementary School principal Lowanda Tyler-Jones for directing her staff to cheat on standardized tests.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, Tyler-Jones and her attorney attempted to “unilaterally withdraw from participating and failing to appear without the Licensure Commission’s authority” at the hearing Thursday.

The decision marks the end of a nearly three-year investigation into testing irregularities at the school. The irregularities were first highlighted by a Clarion-Ledger report in 2014. The Mississippi Department of Education then conducted its own investigation.

Three Clarksdale teachers were also charged with cheating. One surrendered her license while the Commission on Teacher and Administrator Education, Certification and Licensure and Development suspended the license of another teacher. A third teacher’s license expired while under investigation, and the teacher has not attempted to renew it.

“Because of Ms. Tyler-Jones’ actions, children in Clarksdale were deprived of the educational services they needed, and in some cases, students fell far below grade level without any intervention,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “The Commission’s decision to bar this former educator from applying for any type of educator license for 20 years speaks volumes about the seriousness of her offense and the consequences the Commission determined.”