JPS accreditation decision delayed

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Kate Royals/Mississippi Today

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Jr., speaks as City Council members Aaron Banks (far left) and De’Keither Stamps (middle) listen at a rally against a state takeover of JPS last month.

The Jackson Public School District will not lose its accreditation on Tuesday but still faces a difficult week.

The Commission on School Accreditation is scheduled to meet Tuesday to assign district accreditation statuses and possibly approve accountability grades for the 2016-17 school year.

But the commission “will not make a decision regarding changing the current accreditation status of the Jackson Public School District during this meeting” according to a press release from the State Department of Education.

The school district was downgraded from accredited to probation status in August 2016. District officials were required to develop a corrective action plan to address specific accreditation policies and standards the schools were not in compliance with at that time.

On Aug. 31, the state department of education released the results of an 18-month full investigative audit which found the district in violation of 24 out of 32 accreditation standards. Many of those standards the audit says the district did not comply with warrant accreditation withdrawal, according to Mississippi public school accountability standards.

When a district’s accreditation is withdrawn completely, the district has a year in which to petition for a hearing on the downgrade and appear before the commission to show it is in compliance with accreditation standards.

The impact of losing accreditation comes after that one year period and primarily affects interscholastic activities. When a district remains in noncompliance, schools in the district can only participate in up to 50 percent of regular season sports events and extracurricular activities and none of them can be division, district, or regional games, thus barring the schools from competing for state championships.

In September, both the commission and State Board of Education respectively decided an extreme emergency situation existed in the district that threatened students’ safety, security and educational interests. They recommended to Gov. Phil Bryant that he declare a state of emergency and allow state officials to take over Jackson Public Schools.

Bryant said in September he intends to wait for official accountability scores before he makes a decision. The state Board of Education will officially release those scores on Thursday.

Bryant also said in a radio interview last month that he had met with Jackson legislators, JPS Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba about the takeover recommendation. Local political and school officials have urged that they be given more time to take corrective action and stave off a state takeover.