Aberdeen (Miss.) Public School District Faces State Takeover

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, April 20, 2012

Mississippi state education officials who already are overseeing seven struggling public school districts are considering taking over an eighth one despite limited resources.

Aberdeen public schools, a district of almost 1,500 students in northeast Mississippi, is in violation of 31 of the state's 37 accreditation standards, Paula Vanderford, director of accreditation for the state Department of Education, said Wednesday.

Aberdeen's noncompliance issues are "very serious," said H. Ann Jones, a member of the state Commission on School Accreditation.

Among the problems were years of low academic performance, safety violations and questionable use of district dollars.

The commission voted unanimously Wednesday to get the wheels turning for a takeover. The state Board of Education will vote on the commission's recommendation Friday.

The problems in the Aberdeen district range from board members violating state open meetings laws and interfering in the day-to-day operations of the district to officials' failure to report two investigations into alleged incidents of teacher sexual misconduct. There also is documentation of inappropriate expenditures, including inordinate salaries and raises.

Meeting minutes also show the school district paid for board members' home Internet service, Vanderford said.

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