In addition to their function as a public awareness tool for how schools are doing, the labels serve an important accountability purpose: districts that are rated as “failing” for two consecutive years are at-risk of state takeover under the Children First Act of 2009. Since last year was the first year the state assigned accountability labels, the first group meeting the two-year definition is comprised of
Kemper County School District DeKalb, MS
West Tallahatchie School District Webb, MS
Hazlehurst City School District Hazlehurst, MS
Okolona Separate School District Okolona, MS
Drew School District Drew, MS
Since Hazlehurst City and Okolona Separate are already under state conservatorship, Kemper County, West Tallahatchie, and Drew are next in line for possible takeover due to academic reasons. (It should be noted that the state can takeover districts at any time for financial reasons or because a district fails an accreditation audit badly enough that the state is concerned for the immediate health and safety of the students in the district.) After being rated “at-risk-of-failing” in 2008-2009, Hollandale joins the list of failing districts for 2009-2010. However, good news did come for a few districts: Coahoma County and North Panola, which were both rated as failing in 2008-2009 have moved to “academic watch.” Indianola, also failing in 2008-2009, is now labeled “at-risk-of-failing.” Currently, both Indianola and North Panola are under conservatorship and are likely to remain there until gains by the districts are both stronger and sustained.