City school leaders said they were shocked to learn that the state would be taking over the Yazoo City Municipal School District.
Following last Thursday's announcement from the Mississippi Department of Education that Yazoo City was one of two districts to be placed inside the state's first Achievement School District, the local school board carried on its monthly meeting with no reference to the takeover.
Superintendent Dr. Frederick Hill told The Yazoo Herald the state announcement came out of nowhere.
"I was a bit surprised because we were not informed prior to this morning," Hill said. "However, on the same level, I am not because the law has been in place since 2017. Out of the three years, we have been failing so we fit the criteria."
Hill said all he can do now is wait on the state's direction.
"The only thing we can do now is just see what the next steps are offered by MDE as to where we go from here," Hill said.
But one Yazoo City resident gave an emotional response to the recent announcement, calling all citizens to "keep fighting."
"We have all been deemed as failures," said Cynthia Walker, pointing to members of the audience. "That is offensive to me. And it should be offensive to all of you."
Walker urged parents and stakeholders to begin circulating a petition to submit to Gov. Phil Bryant.
"(The Jackson Public School District) was dancing with wolves," Walker said. "And the governor did not sign a state of emergency. We need to be proactive and have thousands of signatures to send before the governor. He has to hear from us, Mr. Phil Bryant."
Walker added that it is time to derail the takeover.
"These are our children," Walker shouted. "There are many things (the state) are half-assing and not taking care of. Now they want to take care of our children?"
However, Bryant was not required to approve the MDE decision to take over the local city school district. The Jackson Public School incident Walker referred to was proposed under a separate law that requires the governor to declare a state of emergency.