MHA Responds to Recent Criticism

Meridian, Miss. The head of the Meridian Housing Authority is disputing recent claims that have been made about his agency. MHA Executive Director, Ron Turner, says comments that were recently made by community activist, Randal Jennings, on Newscenter 11's 'On The Record' program were simply "not true!"

During that broadcast, Jennings gave his view on how local agencies are handling an agreement that the Meridian Public School District reached with the Department of Justice earlier this year. Here's what Jennings said at that time:

"The park services have not come on one accord; the housing authority has not come on one accord, and the school system has not done an inter-local agreement and those three agencies serve the same child every day, but you have not had a collective coming together or sitting down at the round table to say, 'Hey, let's structure these children's lives."

"I just want to say that those statements are completely false, erroneous and unsubstantiated," says MHA Director, Ronald Turner. "The Meridian Housing Authority and the Parks' Services, and the Meridian Public School District are in constant talks regarding issues and concerns that face our children."

The deal that the Meridian School District garnered with the Department of Justice settled concerns about an alleged school-to-jail pipeline. Since being reached, Turner says the Housing Authority has been sponsoring sessions to inform its residents about specifics of the agreement.

"There have been six successful assemblies held on all of our larger housing development sites, averaging over 250 students, and representatives from the Meridian Public School District have been there getting that word out regarding the consent decree."

Through a partnership with the Meridian Public School District, Turner says four prekindergarten classes are held on separate MHA properties. He says the instructors for those classes are certified teachers from the Meridian Public School District.

Also, Turner says that he's a member of the superintendent's advisory committee, and because of that, he meets with school officials at least twice a month.

"We will continue to collaborate and foster these relationships with the school district."