Four charter operators have moved to the next stage of the application process after the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board approved the proposals for completeness on Monday. All four applicants — Clarksdale Collegiate, KC Schools Inc., Shades of Elegance and SR1 — are new operators vying to open schools in Clarksdale, South Pike, Sunflower County and Canton school districts, respectively. If approved, all schools would open in the 2018-2019 school year. The deadline for completed proposals was May 9. The board rejected the applications of Girls Club and Learning Center, which sought to open a pre-kindergarten through 5th grade school in Greenwood, and Success Prep Incorporated, which sought to open a K-12 school in Jackson.
More than a year after the last action in the case, Mississippi Supreme Court justices will hear arguments from both sides of a lawsuit that seeks to require the state to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Former Democratic governor Ronnie Musgrove filed the lawsuit on behalf of 21 school districts, including Jackson Public Schools, in 2014. Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary ruled against Musgrove and the school districts in 2015, stating that the Legislature is not required to fully fund the school funding formula every year. The lawsuit also sought for the state to repay the districts the amount they had been underfunded according to the formula. The MAEP has been fully funded only twice since becoming law in 1997. The plaintiffs appealed Singletary’s ruling and are seeking a favorable decision from the Supreme Court.
Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker defended his department against a lawsuit accusing the department of unconstitutional policing practices that target African-Americans. “Our deputies are professional law enforcement officials who enforce Mississippi laws,” he told The Clarion-Ledger. “If a law is broken, appropriate action is taken regardless of the race of the one breaking said law.” When reached for questions, Madison Co. Sheriff’s Department spokesman Heath Hall told Mississippi Today it was department policy not to comment on pending litigation.
The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday affirmed the Tunica County Circuit Court’s ruling that a law requiring the county to distribute portions of a gaming fee to the town of Tunica and to the Tunica County School District is constitutional. The Supreme Court stated the county failed to prove the local and private law was unconstitutional. The Legislature passed House Bill 1002 in 2004. It authorized the Tunica County Board of Supervisors to impose a fee of up to 3.2 percent of gross gaming revenue of its gaming operations. Ten percent of the fee is required to go to the town of Tunica, while 12 percent of those funds most go toward “educational purposes” in the county.
The judge in the charter school lawsuit has rejected the Jackson Public School District’s attempt to dismiss itself from the case. The district, which is listed as a defendant along with Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Department of Education and three intervenor defendants, argued that it is compliant with current law and that its presence in the lawsuit is unnecessary for the case’s resolution. “While JPS takes no position regarding the ultimate constitutionality of the relevant code section, it will continue to make such payments absent action by this Court or the legislature. Accordingly, relief may not be afforded to the Plaintiffs herein without the presence of JPS as a party,” stated the order from Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas. A group of Jackson parents represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit last year.