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Corinth School District takes state board to court

By Jebb Johnston


The Corinth School District's appeal of 2017-2018 accountability ratings is going to court.

The district filed a notice of appeal in Hinds County Circuit Court, which is the venue for appeals of Mississippi State Board of Education actions. It names the Mississippi State Board of Education, Mississippi Department of Education and State of Mississippi as appellees.

Bill Davis, attorney for the school district, said the district is not giving up after losing its appeal before the state board.

"Everyone in the State of Mississippi knows the ratings given to the District do not accurately reflect the achievements and academic growth of our students and schools," said Davis. "The Board of Trustees and Dr. Childress are committed to pursuing every possible appeal option to right the wrong done to the District, its students and teachers, and the Corinth community."

The district contends that a waiver was not honored after it received District of Innovation status and began using the Cambridge curriculum. The Department of Education made public 2017-2018 accountability results based on state tests rather than Cambridge testing results, and the results were not up to par for the district, which was rated a "C" on the A to F scale. The school ratings were "D" for Corinth Elementary School, "C" for Corinth Middle School and "F" for Corinth High School. The results were labeled "unofficial."

Childress has said the district remains committed to using the Cambridge curriculum. Addressing the state board in Jackson on Jan. 17, he asked the board to withdraw the 2017-2018 accountability ratings, not to assign any further ratings until a modified model is approved, and to instruct the Department of Education to complete development of the modified model.

A week earlier, the Commission on School Accreditation voted to recommend leaving the district's results as they are.

In the new legislative session, members of the local delegation have introduced bills to address the issue, calling for the Department of Education to develop a procedure for the use of Cambridge curriculum in lieu of the state assessments and for the creation of a new rating category for District of Innovation schools while the new model is pending.

The firm of Adams & Reese in Ridgeland is assisting the Corinth district in the case.