Trustees deal with revisions, hear complaint

Published 8:00 pm Friday, July 27, 2012

     Brookhaven School District board members dealt with a number of proposed revisions to district policies and a member of the public returned to affirm his concerns about the oversight of the district at Thursday night’s board meeting.

     District Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya presented board members with another proposed revision to the district’s policy concerning students in need of special education.

     The latest policy revision expounds on and replaces a portion of the policy pledging the district to use “Child Find” efforts to locate students in need of special education but not receiving it.

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     Following a complaint by a parent last year, the Mississippi Department of Education determined the district’s policy concerning special education was in violation of federal law.

     Karmacharya told the board the Mississippi Department of Education worked with the school on these latest revisions.

     The proposed revisions were presented to the board for reading, but will not be voted on until the August board meeting.

     The board was also presented with a policy concerning the physical restraint of students. A safety audit conducted by the MDE several months ago determined the district was lacking in emergency preparedness, and, among other things, noted no policy governing when students could be physically restrained.

     Board attorney Bob Allen asked whether training would be offered, and Karmacharya told him selected employees at each school would be trained in approved restraint methods.

     The Rev. Dr. Larry Jointer of St. James Missionary Baptist Church appeared before the board for a third time to raise concerns about the hiring and promotion practices within the district and to suggest a lack of oversight of the district on the part of board members.

     Particularly, Jointer has complained that qualified black administrators are being passed over when filling vacancies and people outside the district are being hired.

     Whether race is a factor in these decisions are not, Jointer said the board has a problem because some in the community do see a problem.

     “If perception is reality, we have a bad picture,” Jointer said. “Unless this school board takes control, the problem is going to get bigger.”

     In other business, board members also reaffirmed the district’s annual agreement with the Mississippi School of the Arts to provide instruction in certain subjects to MSA students.