Below is a press release from the Mississippi Department of Education:
The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted today to begin the process to return the Tunica County School District (TCSD) to local control. The first step in the 18-month process is to select applicants to serve on the local school board.
The SBE has governed the TCSD since 2015, when it determined an extreme emergency existed in the district and asked the governor to declare a state of emergency. Specifically, the district was in violation of 25 of the 31 accreditation standards the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) reviewed. Accreditation audits found serious deficiencies in special education, federal programs, instructional programs, career technical education and district governance.
SBE-appointed interim superintendent Dr. Margie Pulley has been leading the district since 2015, during which she implemented high-quality instruction, sound financial management and brought all accreditation standards into compliance. Under her leadership, the district’s accountability grade improved to a C after a four-year track record of D and F grades. Dr. Pulley will continue to lead the district under the SBE’s direction through Dec. 31, 2023. The new Tunica County School District board will begin serving as voting members on Jan. 1, 2024.
“Dr. Pulley has done an outstanding job leading the administrators, teachers and staff of the Tunica County School District in service to students,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Her student-centered, data-driven focus and strong management transformed the district from a state of emergency to an academically strong, fiscally sound organization. Most importantly, her effective instructional leadership significantly improved student achievement.”
Mississippi’s state of emergency, District of Transformation and Achievement School District laws enable the SBE and the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to intervene in school districts with a pattern of persistently poor student performance, extreme financial mismanagement or with serious violations of accreditation standards or state or federal law that jeopardize the safety or educational interests of students. Along with TCSD, there are currently four other school districts under state control, Noxubee County School District, Holmes County Consolidated School District, Humphreys County School District and Yazoo City School District. Humphreys and Yazoo City are part of the state’s Achievement School District.
State law gives the SBE authority to return a state-run district to local control when the district has corrected all its deficiencies and has improved its academic performance.
The SBE’s vote today authorized the MDE to seek applications for potential board members for TCSD. School board members will represent each of Tunica County’s five school board member districts. Selected applicants will serve the school district in an advisory capacity to interim superintendent Dr. Pulley from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2023. The selected applicants will serve as voting school board members from Jan. 1, 2024, through Dec. 31, 2024. Board members may continue to serve after 2024 provided they are elected during their applicable November elections.
Interested applicants for the Tunica County School Board must complete and submit an application to the MDE by Friday, July 15, 2022.