State taking over Yazoo City School District

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

The Mississippi Department of Education announced that it will be taking over the Yazoo City Municipal School District during its board meeting Thursday morning.

And the Yazoo City Municipal School Board will be disbanded by June.

The Mississippi State Board of Education voted Thursday to place the Humphreys County and Yazoo City school districts in the state’s first Achievement School District, which will launch in the 2019-20 school year.

The state education board considered the possibility of taking over five school districts within the state. Of those five, the Yazoo City Municipal School District and the neighboring Humphreys County School District were chosen to be taken over by the state.

A state law enacted in 2016 requires the SBE to intervene in persistently failing school districts by placing the districts in a state-run Achievement School District (ASD). Districts that are rated “F” for two consecutive years or two out of three consecutive years, encompass 50 percent or more F-rated schools and/or have 50 percent or more of their students attending F-rated schools are subject to inclusion in the ASD.

The Yazoo City Municipal School District slightly improved recently but has since fallen back into a failing status with the most recent state accountability scores.

The SBE selected Humphreys and Yazoo City to form the first ASD because, together, they have the largest number of students enrolled in F-rated schools and they are located in the same region.

The new ASD will serve a total of 4,065 students, which includes 1,647 from Humphreys County and 2,418 from Yazoo City.

The SBE will be the governing body of the ASD, and the local school boards will be disbanded no later than June 1, 2019.

In December 2017, the SBE voted to delay its decision to name any district for the ASD until an ASD superintendent was selected. After a national search, the SBE hired Jermall Wright, Ed.D., to lead Mississippi’s first ASD. Wright currently serves as chief academic and accountability officer for Birmingham City Schools and previously served in state and district leadership roles at the Alabama State Department of Education, the School District of Philadelphia (PA) and Denver Public Schools.

State law requires that districts absorbed by the ASD maintain a “C” rating for five years to become eligible to revert back to local governance.

The law allows for the SBE to select additional districts for the ASD based on its established criteria and the MDE’s capacity to manage the districts.

“The Achievement School District law requires the State Board and the MDE to intervene in the state’s lowest-performing school districts in order to improve student achievement,” said SBE Chair Jason Dean, Ph.D. “The children in Humphreys County and Yazoo City need and deserve an education that will equip them to be successful in college, career and life. We believe in the capacity of these children to achieve better outcomes and are committed to helping them reach their greatest potential.”