UPDATED: JPS Audit Will Take Time; Board Votes for National Supe Search | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

UPDATED: JPS Audit Will Take Time; Board Votes for National Supe Search

Jackson Public Schools Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray says the district will likely clear its full investigative audit by the end of the year.

Jackson Public Schools Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray says the district will likely clear its full investigative audit by the end of the year. Photo by Imani Khayyam.

This story has been updated with more details about the request for proposal (RFP) to find a superintendent search consultant that JPS released this morning as well as a link to the community input survey.

The way out of an investigative audit and into compliance for Jackson Public Schools will not be easy—or quick.

At the board meeting Tuesday, Dr. Jason Sargent, the chief of staff of accountability and research, explained that the full audit means the district must complete every single item, pre-k to graduation standards, on the corrective action plan before the district is in complete compliance.

Interim Superintendent Freddrick Murray told board members that committees for 18 of the district's "F"-rated schools will meet with Mississippi Department of Education officials next week to show each school's improvement presentation. Murray said the plans show how each school will go from an "F" to a "D" to a "C" and so forth.

"We will present that (plan) to a group at MDE, and there will be feedback, and there will be some conversation about that," Murray said Jan. 10. "We will have 18 different presentations over a three-day period."

Murray said the corrective action plan, called the CAP, is like the umbrella and the roadmap to move the district toward improvements. He said he hopes the district will have full clearance from the investigative audit by the end of the year.

"We can't clear (the audit) until every area is complete, but we are hoping that can be done by the end of the year," Murray said. "I want to reiterate that we are working (with MDE) in lock-step."

One of the key improvements, Murray said, is rolling out an instruction management plan, something the district has not had for seven or eight years. The management plan ensures that all teachers are on board with the most current curriculum, the CAP shows.

The board also moved forward on its search for a superintendent, opting for a national search that does not preclude internal, local and regional candidates from applying. Board members voted to use a request for proposal that required the consultant they choose to have at least 10 years of operational experience.

Board attorney Dorian Turner told the board she would send the request for proposal to local search firms as well as to national firms on a list from the National School Boards Association, and the RFP will be posted publicly in local newspapers.

The RFP shows that the district plans to hire a new superintendent by July 1, at the latest, and the deadline for consultant firms to apply for the role is Jan. 24. The firm must have 10 years of experience in conducting superintendent searches, and the board is looking for a firm that has worked with other urban school districts in the past.

JPS Board President Beneta Burt ensured the public that the superintendent search would remain a transparent process and said an online survey will allow community members to provide input.

"We all understand the gravity of the situation and where we are," Burt said. "I think we will continue to have transparent conversations from every step up the way because we know that these are unusual times."

Board member Jed Oppenheim asked to form a committee that will work with local community organizations to solicit input on not just the superintendent search but also on the direction of the district as well. Burt appointed Oppenheim as the chairman of the committee, and Oppenheim said the committee would do "deep-dive" work within the community to hear what the public expects and demands of the new superintendent and district.

Community members are encouraged to participate in this survey to help the board refine their decision-making process as they look for new superintendent.

Email state reporter Arielle Dreher at arielle@jacksonfreepress.com and follow her on Twitter @arielle_amara.

Read more stories on Jackson Public Schools at jfp.ms/jps.

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