At North Panola

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2012

By David Howell

The State Department of Education has taken the first steps to  return North Panola School District to local control.
That report came June 27 from NP Conservator Robert King during a public  hearing on the 2012-13  budget.
King explained that a corrective action plan to address  accreditation deficiencies has been sent to the Mississippi  Department of Education.

“They will be sending an audit team back in the fall to review the  progress we have made toward those accreditation deficiencies,” King  explained.

Once those accreditations deficiencies are cleared, then the  recommendation will be made to the State Department of Education to  begin the process to bring this district out of Conservatorship.

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As part of the process, an interim school board and superintendent  will be appointed.
“After that, the recommendation will be made to come out from under  the state of emergency. It could be at least a year, it could be  longer depending on where we are with the accreditation violations,”  King added.

In May the previous school board, based on SB  2737, was abolished,  King explained, action that was taken in all conservator districts  across the state.

The entire process to return the district to local control could  take a year or longer, depending on where the district stands with  the accreditation violations.

Poor academic achievement at two North Panola schools triggered the  state takeover, when the schools failed to show improvement among  their students.

King also said preliminary data from state testing last year looks  very positive. Although the official data remains under embargo until  the results are finalized,  King reported he was pleased with the  preliminary results.

King’s appointment in April, 2011 marked the fourth state-appointed  leader since the Department of Education took over the school in 2008.

North Panola is one of eight school districts across the state under  control by the Mississippi Department of Education. The other  districts include Drew, Hazlehurst, Indianola, Okolona, Sunflower County, Tate County and Aberdeen

However, the Mississippi Board of Education voted to return Okolona schools to local control May 18.