Gov. Tate Reeves approved the state takeover of the Holmes County Consolidated School District Thursday.
The governor issued the declaration of emergency which dissolves the district's board and puts the state Board of Education in charge of the district.
In a post on Facebook, Gov. Reeves said that he took no delight in issuing the declaration.
“Maintaining local control when possible is a foundational principle of conservative governance; however, the serious violations of state and federal law and accreditation standards, serious financial concerns, lack of internal controls, inappropriate standards of governance, inappropriate oversight by the Board, and the continued poor academic performance (among many other factors) no longer make that possible in the HCCSD,” Reeves said.
His move came after the board voted unanimously Tuesday to ask for the declaration after the Commission on School Equality passed on the recommendation for a state takeover. The board has already approved the contract for a a new superintendent for the district, Jennifer Wilson.
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.
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.