By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
The Booneville School District’s probation accreditation status involved missed student days as well as missed teacher days, the head of the Mississippi Department of Education’s accreditation department said on Friday.
Booneville was among 13 districts in the state to receive probation accreditation status from the Mississippi Department of Education. The status, which results from a deficiency in one of more of the 37 Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, does not carry any sanctions or fines, but it does indicate that the district must take corrective action to address the deficiency so that it does not lose its accreditation.
Paula Vanderford, the director of the MDE Office of Accreditation, said Booneville was cited because auditors could only verify that students had attended 179 days of school last year, instead of the 180 as required by law. She added that auditors could only find 185 teacher work days, instead of the required 187. Both are a violation of accreditation standard 19.
Booneville was also cited for falsely reporting to the MDE the number of days students attended classes, Vanderford said, noting that is a violation of standard 2.1.
Booneville missed days last year because of winter weather and also because its basketball team made the state championship tournament.
The violations and audit both occurred before current Booneville Superintendent Todd English took over on July 1. English said the school did make up several of the days it had missed and he had been under the impression the violation resulted from missed teacher days rather than missed student days.
Regardless, he said the district is working closely with the MDE to make sure students and teachers attend the proper number of days this year. Once that happens, the MDE would remove Booneville’s probationary status.
Vanderford confirmed the district is working closely with her department.
“I’ve talked to him on numerous occasions, and he is going to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.