Mississippi rethinks barring sports in troubled schools

By Jeff Amy/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi education leaders are pulling back from a proposal to bar football and other activities in troubled school districts.

The State Board of Education had proposed to bar any district that loses accreditation or is taken over by the state from continuing interscholastic sports or competitions in activities like band, choir and debate.

The idea was that cutting off extracurricular activities would so distress a community that residents would bring severe pressure on school leaders to make improvements.

But State Superintendent Tom Burnham said Thursday that he thought a total bar was too severe. Instead, he said the Department of Education now supports a plan to limit but not prohibit activities. For example, sports teams might be allowed to play district games, but not participate in tournaments, jamborees or playoffs.