Mississippi Department of Education officially takes over Aberdeen School District

By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal

ABERDEEN — Members of the Mississippi Department of Education made their official entrance into the Aberdeen School District Tuesday followed last week’s process of a state takeover in Jackson.
After an audit found the district noncompliant of 31 of 37 mandated standards, Bob Strebeck was named conservator of the district. With 40 years education experience, Strebeck has formerly served as conservator in North Panola and Sunflower County school districts.
“I am not the enemy, but I am the conservator. I’m here to do what’s right and I’ll do what’s legal. I have an expectation of everyone to do their jobs and if they don’t do then we’ll find someone who will,” Strebeck said.
The Aberdeen School Board was officially dissolved Tuesday, signaling an end to school board meetings.
“There will be an agenda signed by me and when it’s signed, the meeting is over. I promise what I approve and don’t approve will be the best for the children,” Strebeck said.
Interim deputy state superintendent Dr. Larry Drawdy addressed rumors of a possible boycott of the school in the aftermath of the conservatorship.
“All that will do is hurt the children and it may make a few adults feel good about being negative. The Mississippi Department of Education will shut the school down in the event of a boycott and the students will make up the days to be in accordance with the mandatory 180 days they have to go to school.
“Our job is one-fold. We don’t want to be here, but we’re here to take care of the boys and girls so they can have a sufficient education. With a positive attitude and community support, we can be in and out quicker than with other districts,” Drawdy said.
Mayor-elect Cecil Belle seconded Drawdy’s sentiments of the community putting forth a positive attitude of the state takeover.
“Our children are the victims and the MDE is here because we dropped the bomb. The governor signed the order and they’re just here to do his marching orders. If we go away with a negative attitude blaming everybody else, we’re not going anywhere. I’m looking forward to everyone working together here,” Belle said.
Strebeck is beginning his duties by checking seniors’ records to make sure they’ve received the proper credits to graduate in May. It is unclear how long the ASD will be under a conservatorship.