JPS officials pledge to “respond appropriately” at audit meeting

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Jackson Public Schools leaders say they will address the findings of a scathing audit report during a public meeting next week.

Last week, the Mississippi Department of Education unveiled the results of an 18 month investigative audit which found the district in violation of 24 of 32 accreditation standards. District officials have the chance to address the findings at a Commission of School Accreditation meeting on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m.

Earlier Tuesday, the district sent out a release to announce the board would meet for a special work session “regarding the recent audit from the Mississippi Department of Education.” When the meeting convened at 4 p.m., the board voted to close the meeting less than ten minutes in to consider going into executive session.

Interim Board President Camille Stutts-Simms made the motion to close the meeting so that she and her colleagues could “flush out” questions about personnel, departments and their compliance with audit standards.

Board attorney Dorian Turner told the public the board voted to go into executive session to discuss strategy for the upcoming meeting with the accreditation commission. Standard leaders and consultants from Bailey Education Group were allowed to attend.

During the regularly scheduled board meeting at 5:30 p.m., Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray and Stutts-Simms stressed the district was taking the audit findings seriously.


Camille Stutts-Sims, Jackson Public Schools Board president

“We do take it serious and we are working very hard to make sure our report, when we report back on September the 13th, will be reflective of those efforts,” she said.

Murray said “there has been a lot out in the media” about the report and the district would respond appropriately to the audit at the commission meeting next week.

The commission will determine if the standard violations show an extreme emergency in the district that jeopardizes student safety and educational interests.

On Sept. 14 the State Board of Education will meet at 10 a.m., where the commission can make recommendations to the board. The board can reject or accept them or, ask the commission for further consideration.

If it is determined that extreme emergency exists, the state board can request the governor declare a state of emergency which would allow them to appoint an interim conservator or private entity to helm the district, or have the state take it over completely.