The Mississippi State Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend to Gov. Tate Reeves that the state take over the Holmes County Consolidated School District.
If the governor declares a state of emergency, the state will hire a new superintendent for the district, Jennifer Wilson, and the school board will be dissolved.
The return of local control would require five years of C grades in the MDE's annual accountability scores or until the state Board of Education votes to return it to local control.
An investigation conducted by the Mississippi Department of Education from April 27 to July 23 found the district in violation of 26 of the 32 accreditation standards required of all of the state's school districts.
This was after the MDE appointed a financial advisor for the district to oversee its finances.
The MDE issued a warning letter to the district in October 2020 due to complaints of interference by the district's board in the day-to-day operations of the district. District officials failed to submit required annual financial audits for both 2018 and 2019 by the appropriate deadlines
In December 2020, State Auditor Shad White's office released an audit of the school district and found numerous financial issues within the district, including allegations of overpayment of the district's superintendent, a lack of oversight on purchasing and violations of state purchasing laws concerning competitive bids.
The investigative report found numerous violations, including 123 teachers who didn't hold a valid teacher's license or proper endorsements for the subject they taught. Five percent of the district's professional staff worked outside their area of expertise.
The curriculum at Holmes County High didn't provide a minimum of required, approved courses.
As far as safety, the MDE said the district failed to conduct quarterly inspections of its bus fleet and require appropriate training for its bus drivers. None of the district's seven schools met state standards for student safety and santiation.
The district also failed to employ a school business officer for the 2020-2021 school year and financial records required by state regulations and law were not properly maintained, especially when it came to Child Nutrition reimbursements issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The district also failed to provide appropriate library services and counseling for the district's alternative school.
Holmes Consolidated is the product of the merger of the largely-failing Durant and Holmes County school districts after the 2018 school year. Durant earned Ds from the MDE's annual accountability grades from 2014 to 2017 before falling to a failing grade in 2018 before the merger. Holmes County's district had two straight Ds in 2014 and 2015 before three consecutive years of failing marks.