JPS Keeps Accreditation ... For Now | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JPS Keeps Accreditation ... For Now

The Mississippi Board of Education has granted Jackson Public Schools' request for an extension that will buy the district more time to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The Mississippi Board of Education has granted Jackson Public Schools' request for an extension that will buy the district more time to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Photo by Elizabeth Waibel.

The Mississippi Board of Education has granted Jackson Public Schools' request for an extension that will buy the district more time to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

JPS was set to lose its accreditation June 30 based on a lawsuit settlement, but the Mississippi Department of Education pulled that agenda item at its June 21 meeting and granted the district another seven months to comply.

"After reviewing the progress of the district as it related to the corrective action plan, the (State Board of Education) decided that progress was made and extended the time for JPS to come into full compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act," the Mississippi Department of Education said in a statement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Southern Disability Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Education for failing to ensure JPS was meeting the needs of some 3,000 students with disabilities enrolled in the district, as the Jackson Free Press reported in July 2012.

In the suit, the plaintiffs alleged that "For years, students with disabilities throughout JPS have been denied the educational and supportive services they need to achieve academically, and have been removed from their schools and forced into substandard segregated settings with little to no appropriate academic programming and related services."

MDE first threatened JPS with loss of accreditation by Nov. 1, 2012, but the department offered a deal in which JPS made some concessions to bring in MDE to help fix the problem. MDE also offered an extension on full compliance to June 30 to sweeten the pot.

The concessions were five-fold.

First, Dr. Lynn House, interim state superintendent of education, and Dr. Cedric Gray, JPS superintendent, would mutually agree upon an administrator of the corrective plan who would report to MDE.

Second, the mutually agreed-upon administrator of the plan would monitor compliance with IDEA and the expenditure of IDEA funds. Third, MDE would withhold JPS IDEA funds until released for appropriate expenditures by the administrator, in coordination with Gray.

Fourth and fifth, JPS would ensure that all personnel concerns of the administrator will be addressed and resolved, and that district personnel will work collaboratively with the administrator and MDE.

On October 30, 2012, the JPS Board reversed its decision from a day before and voted 4-3 to accept MDE's proposal. Joseph Fisher was named to the administrator of the corrective plan.

The new extension gives JPS until Feb. 28 to come into full IDEA compliance, but adds more conditions. First, JPS must remove, transfer or resolve problems brought by special-education teachers who do not comply with Fisher's corrective plan, and second, that JPS will forfeit its rights to a hearing if the district fails to comply by the new deadline.

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Comments

justjess 6 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone know the individuals who make up the team, other than Dr. House and Dr. Grey, to deliver compliance in this law suit? My concern stems from the fact that JPS has always been weak in the hiring of appropriate staff to address issues of screening, placement and the educating of children with disabilities.

The focus can not be on academics alone: The needs of this special population involves so many arms and it is apparent that JPS continues to miss the mark. Until we have skilled people in policy making positions, a few months, even a few years, will not be enough time to comply.

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Duan 6 years, 9 months ago

@ justjess - that's a solid point.

I've had numerous people disagree with me on this - but I think JPS is stretched thin when it comes to utilizing its resources.

During the transition of integration, numerous schools were built simply because of white flight - schools such as Callaway, Forest Hill and Provine were predominately white institutions - until black students began to integrate into the neighborhoods and the schools. So when people made flight to one end of Jackson - people that wanted or for lack of better words, expected higher quality education - followed suit. Now we see the after effects of white flight on the school system. We have numerous schools ranging from elementary to high school. We are cross bussing children through the school district. The logistics of the districts are mind boggling and add in we have more administrators than teachers, and numerous consultants?

It is clearly in disarray - but that's not just Jackson - that's public education in Mississippi as a whole?

It's one giant cluster ****?

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elizabethwaibel 6 years, 9 months ago

Thought this headline looked familiar. Is this the same issue they were having last year? http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/..." rel="nofollow">http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...

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elizabethwaibel 6 years, 9 months ago

Thought this headline looked familiar. Is this the same issue they were having last year? http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/..." rel="nofollow">http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/...

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