State set to take control of Oktibbeha schools

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has declared an emergency allowing the state to take over the Oktibbeha County School District.

Bryant signed the declaration Friday at the request of the state Board of Education.

“I have reviewed the findings by the Mississippi Department of Education and agree the current leadership in the Oktibbeha County School District is jeopardizing the learning environment,” Bryant said in a statement. “This pattern cannot continue. The students and communities in that district deserve better.”

State education officials said the Oktibbeha school system is in violation of 29 of the 30 accreditation standards. It also says the district has a history of poor student performance, and has failed to report complete and accurate data on employee contracts, staff, payroll and board minutes.

Jayne Sargent, former superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, was named interim conservator of the district for 90 days, replacing schools Superintendent James Covington immediately. The school board also was disbanded.

State education officials will meet with local administrators, faculty and parents Monday.