Some Criticize MDE Reorganization

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Jackson, Miss.
Reorganization is what the Mississippi Department of Education calls it. Simply put, folks were laid off. A spokesperson says it impacted fewer than 30 employees.

Brenda Scott at the Alliance for State Employees says she is worried more jobs could be in jeopardy.

"They're on edge out there," Scott said. "They don't really know why this is going on because they're so far removed from realizing how important that statehouse and those people they elect are to them."

This process started because of a bill signed into law this year. The House Education chairman says the Department of Education requested the change. They are now out from under the umbrella of the State Personnel Board for two years.

"They could've been let go for a political reason, good reason, bad reason or no reason at all," said Scott. "The personnel board has served a very important role in affording state employees due process rights when it comes to fighting for a job they have rendered years of service to."

Scott questions the motives behind this change.

"There's a mechanism in place in the state personnel board policy and procedure manual to streamline, downsize, reorganize, reduce the workforce," said Scott. "Why isn't that process good enough?"

State Rep. Andy Gipson says a PEER report prompted lawmakers to pass the bill.

"It was a solution for us to really let the agency manage its own affairs for a period of two years and get things back in the most efficient manner," Gipson said.

Gipson says it's important for nay-sayers to look at the big picture.

"Two year period. I don't think that's too much to ask because there may be some folks who are not as on fire for education that need to take another look and make sure they're there for the right reasons," said Gipson.

There was a push by some senators to remove all state agencies from the control of the state personnel board for two years. It died in committee.