The federal courthouse in Jackson Credit: U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services

On Monday, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit that Jackson Public Schools parents filed against state education officials, they say, for violating their 14th amendment rights. The dismissal came after the parents decided to drop the case.

In September, a group of 30 parents filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all of the district’s students which alleged they were denied due process in the possible state takeover process.

The suit, filed Sept. 18, sued State Superintendent Carey Wright, State Board of Education Chair Rosemary Aultman and Commission on School Accreditation Chair Heather Westerfield and claimed the education leaders violated the parents’ and students’ 14th amendment right to due process.

The plaintiffs filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss their request for a temporary and permanent injunction and complaint for relief. U.S. District Court Judge Louis Guirola Jr. signed the order.

“Establishing a commission with parents, education experts and community leaders was clearly the best option for our children instead of a state takeover or maintaining the current status quo,” Dorsey Carson, an attorney for the plaintiffs and a JPS parent, told Mississippi Today in an email. “That led to our decision to dismiss the parents’ and schoolchildren’s lawsuit, and now the real work can begin.”

Jackson Public Schools avoid takeover; Gov. Bryant orders independent review

The parents group originally argued state education officials “engaged in unconstitutional actions that have harmed Plaintiffs, the JPS Schoolchildren and JPS Parents;  and deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights” because the state Board of Education and commission both declared an extreme emergency situation existed in the district without taking any input from parents.

This option uses a “Better Together Commission” comprised of former and current educators as well as faith and business leaders who will work to engage the community and find an outside entity to do a detailed evaluation of Jackson Public Schools.


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Kayleigh Skinner joined the Mississippi Today team in January 2017 as an education and legislative reporter and advanced to a senior staff member in her four years with the company. Before joining Mississippi Today, Kayleigh worked at The Hechinger Report, Chalkbeat Tennessee, and The Commercial Appeal. She has appeared on MSNBC, NPR, and BBC Newsday Radio to discuss her reporting.