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Jackson Public School Board Makes Deal to Keep Accreditation

By Daniel Cherry | Published 30 Oct 2012 06:37pm | comments
Mississippi's 2nd largest school district has avoided losing its accreditation for the time being. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports Jackson Public School board members reached an agreement with the state, extending their time to solve special education deficiencies.
 
The Jackson Public School Board reversed a previous decision, and accepted an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Education in exchange for an extension to come into compliance with special education standards. Dr. Cedric Gray, JPS Superintendent, says the district now has until the end of June to comply.
 
"This extra time will make sure that, not only, will we address the issues as it relates to students with special needs, but that we also address the issues as it relates to all  30,000 students in our system."
 
The agreement says JPS can keep accreditation under the condition certain terms are met, giving significant control to the state. Some board members like Tim Collins oppose the agreement because they feel it gives away too much.
 
"Certainly we don't want to risk accreditation, but, on the other side, we had some other avenues at our disposal. We could have taken this thing perhaps a little further in a court of law. I wouldn't advocate that either, but in terms of giving up appeal rights, it's nonsensical and certainly not within the long-term best interests of our children."
 
If accreditation is lost, JPS students would face restrictions including bans on post-season extracurricular activities. Carolyn Jolivette with Jackson Parents for Public Schools hopes the board made the right decision.
 
"We have to believe that the best interests of the children are going to be at the heart of all this. Because the children are going to bear the brunt of whether or not we almost lost our accreditation, whether we lost it, and they're also going to benefit if we keep it."
 
The Mississippi Department of Education applauded the move and says they look forward to working with the district in achieving full compliance with federal special education laws. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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