Kelsey Evans

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Failing Public Schools To Become Charter Schools?

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Maybe you saw it on the big screen in “Won’t Back Down.” Parent takeovers of failing public schools could be coming to Mississippi.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, 35 schools are eligible for the first time to be converted to charter schools. A majority of parents must sign a petition seeking conversion.

State officials and charter advocates say they know of no petitions currently circulating. Parents would have to develop a full plan on how they would run the school, which could be difficult for a volunteer group. The state Board of Education would evaluate the proposal and could reject it.

Charter advocates say the conversion process is too difficult and doesn’t allow charter schools to start fresh, as some national charter groups prefer.

Because they have performed poorly for three years in a row, the following 35 schools across Mississippi are eligible to be converted into public charter schools. A majority of parents would have to sign a petition that is approved by the state Board of Education to take the schools from current administrators and set up new management independent of a local school board. Here’s the list of eligible schools alphabetically by district:

Aberdeen: Shivers Middle

Benton County: Ashland High

Claiborne County: Port Gibson High

Clarksdale: Clarksdale High, Higgins Middle, Oakhurst Middle, Booker T. Washington Elementary

Cleveland: D.M. Smith Middle

Coahoma County: Coahoma County Junior-Senior High, Friars Point Elementary

Coffeeville: Coffeeville High

Copiah County: Crystal Springs Middle

Covington County: Mount Olive Attendance Center

Greenville: Greenville-Weston High

Hinds Agricultural: Hinds Agricultural High

Holmes County: Lexington Elementary

Indianola: Gentry High

Jackson city: Whitten Middle

Lee County: Verona Elementary

Leflore County: Amanda Elzy High, Leflore County High

Leland: Leland School Park

Meridian: Carver Middle

Moss Point: Moss Point High, Magnolia Junior High

Natchez-Adams: Morgantown Elementary

Newton city: Pilate Middle

Noxubee County: Liddell Middle

Okolona: Okolona High

Oktibbeha County: East Oktibbeha High, West Oktibbeha High

South Pike: Magnolia Elementary

Walthall County: Dexter High

Yazoo City: Yazoo City High, McCoy Elementary

Source: Mississippi Department of Education