Evans, Currie note school leader bill OK

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2008

At the urging of State Superintendent of Education Dr. HankBounds, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill lastweek that would remove superintendents from office who preside overfailing school districts.

Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello, said the bill, which is headed forconference with the Senate, calls for the removal of anysuperintendent whose district is rated at level one or two, orunder-performing, for two consecutive years. New elections or anappointment would be held upon a superintendent’s removal.

Evans said the bill was one of many recommendations proposed byBounds, and the issue underwent much debate and transformationbefore the bill was passed. Several amendments were proposed to thebill, one of which Evans believes will return and be approved inthe future.

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“Two amendments were proposed to make the school boards just asresponsible as the superintendents,” he said. “We all know thatsometimes a superintendent can’t do more than what his board willallow.

“This bill may be tweaked so that not only does a superintendentlose his job, but the school board of an under-performing districtwill also be terminated and new elections called,” Evansspeculated.

Evans was in favor of the bill. But he was concerned with someof the discussion he heard surrounding it, particularly some of thesuggestions coming from Bounds.

“Dr. Bounds repeatedly stated that two years should besufficient time for anyone to get a district up to the minimumstandards we have now,” Evans recalled. “What I took from that wasthat he was saying that our standards are so low now that anyoneought to be able to get into a school system and getunder-performing schools up to at least a level three within twoyears.”

Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, was not as concerned, pointingout that the bill was mainly aimed at a collection of schools inthe Delta are that are “just failing.”

“Looking at the list of the schools shown to us that needimprovement, District 92 was not on the list,” she said. “None ofour schools here are failing. For anyone worried about it here, Idon’t think it will be an issue.”

Currie was concerned, however, about the long-term effects thebill might have on teachers in the district, especially when asuperintendent’s job was on the line.

“I’m worried that a superintendent whose district is in troublewill be putting added pressure on teachers,” she said. “Theteachers want to go in and teach, and they should be able to dothat without worrying about the added pressure caused when asuperintendent may lose his job in two years.”

Currie said that if the bill is passed into law, she would liketo see the creation of a human resources division within the stateDepartment of Education, so that teachers would have a confidentialavenue to express their own concerns.

“If the superintendent puts all the pressure on teachers, theteachers ought to have some kind of human resources center to calland express their concerns without worrying about retaliation ontheir jobs,” she said.