Community Concerned About Accreditation

By: Tametria Conner Email
By: Tametria Conner Email

Meridian Public Schools' drop in accreditation status has raised community concern, but local officials have been tight-lipped about an alleged testing violation that caused it.

Mississippi Department of Education spokesman Pete Smith has confirmed that the Meridian High School test coordinator reported the test violation to MHS principal Vicki Hood, and Hood failed to report it to the district test coordinator. But Meridian superintendent Charlie Kent says otherwise.

"The principal has been cleared of those allegations at the high school," said Kent.

When asked as of what date, Kent said, "I don't know the exact date, but it was early last week. There were some things that were done and there was a meeting. And that's as far as I can go."

Smith confirmed that the situation involved a teacher copying a 2007 English II test and using it to prepare her students for the test administered in 2008.

Officials say all of the teacher's students did remarkably well. During an investigation, a copy of the test was found in the teacher's classroom.

School officials confirm that the Meridian High School test coordinator resigned and the district test coordinator resigned. It is unclear what, if any, action has been taken against the teacher and principal.

Hood declined an on-camera interview but answered a question at a community forum regarding if any laws had been broken regarding this incident. Hood said, "I think the answer to that question is no. That particular situation is under investigation."

But according to Mississippi Code, it is against the law to copy a test, give students access to test questions and fail to report it. This is a misdemeanor, and if convicted, a person could be fined or face jail time and even lose administrative or teaching credentials.

State education officials sent a letter to Kent and it states, in addition to the district being placed on advised status for the 08-09 school year, Meridian High School's annual performance will be labeled as a "school in violation of test security."

"The plan has been submitted and accepted by MDE. We have done everything that MDE has asked us to do," Kent said.

Documents confirm this will remain on record until cleared by the Office of Student Assessment. School Board president Edward Lynch confirmed the attorney general's office is also investigating and the board will take appropriate action based on recommendations from the administration.

A hearing will be held in Jackson, however a date has not been set. The commission's next regularly scheduled meeting is in August.

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  • by Don't Judge Location: Meridian on Jul 14, 2009 at 09:39 AM
    Know the full story before you start throwing stones. Don't get concerned when there is a problem of this proportion! We all should have been concerned years before now! Now we are all ashamed! Do get mad! Make a change!
  • by Anonymous on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:22 PM
    Meridian Public School District has other talented employees who are qualified to be administrators. The district is not utilizing them. Why? Apparently, this is their lost as district.
  • by seeing the big picture Location: Meridian, MS on Jul 9, 2009 at 12:07 PM
    this is no surprise to me.This is why I am trying my best to get my children out of this school district. The children are not getting the time, materials, and advocacy that they deserve and need. These people figure "if we can't really teach the kids what they need to know, let's pretend like they do know it". Hogwash. Parents-step up and be advocates and voices for your child's future.Refuse for our children to receive any less than what they all deserve, which is well-rounded and SUPERIOR education. Officials and teachers- accept that the time has come to change. Stop zoning the schools so the "well off" children get the best teachers and resources, while the poor kids get whats left. Stop pretending that our kids are getting the time, and materials needed when they are NOT. And stop making excuses for your mistakes. Mississippi has some of the WORST performing schools in the nation.. but has anybody else stopped to ask out why?
  • by Mrs. Concerned Location: Meridian on Jul 2, 2009 at 12:46 PM
    I, as a Parent, am embarrased that we have educators that would do such things. Here we are trying to keep our children in school and educators taking short cuts. Don't you think our kids deserve better than that! I can imagine the kids faces upon getting the results of their testing. Now they have to learn that some of them basically cheated due to some lazy educators taking short cuts. I agree, there should be action taken.
  • by Sick of it all Location: Meridian on Jun 26, 2009 at 11:12 PM
    Old Timer, if you think things are bad, please continue teachers to strike. Teachers, please search the laws regarding strikes in Mississippi before you do. Have a great school year!
  • by Ledger Location: meridian on Jun 25, 2009 at 05:13 PM
    Did you see the letter in the Clarion Ledger from former Board member Brad Carter today? He is correct that we as a District are now dying and our city will follow if this is not immediately corrected. I remember when we had such quality individuals on our Board. Members such as Brad Carter, Ricardo Gillespie, Minnie Hunter, Ann Stewart, Sam Neal and many others. Mrs. Stewart couldn't stomach the meddling of Ed Lynch and Fred Wile. She resigned from the Board as soon as these two started their often unethical Board shenanigans. Our Board members have had NO integrity since she left. John Robert was an idiot to appoint these 5 losers to the Board. It is alleged that he appointed and kept Wile on the Board because he and a few of his cronies were John Robert's biggest campaign donors. Carter was correct and courageous in calling for the BOARD and the SUPT to be fired. Our board is liars, crooks, and egomaniacs. Let's throw the moneychangers OUT. BOAERD & SUPT - PLEASE GET OUT!PLEASE!!!!
  • by oldie but goodie Location: meridian on Jun 25, 2009 at 04:17 PM
    I am remember the eighties. Let's walk! We must get someone's attention. The board will fiddle while Rome burns.
  • by Sassy Teacher on Jun 25, 2009 at 06:24 AM
    Why is Vicky Hood still employed and why has the community NOT demanded that the teacher - Mrs. Walker - be fired??? This is not a question of - we are investigating!!! Thats over and done with! They are both guilty as charged. As a teacher and a test administrator, I signed a form that said I would be jailed and /or have to pay a $10,000 fine if I did not follow the test procedures. What is the hold-up with these ladies? Are they beyond the rules? And if so why?
  • by Fed Up Location: Meridian on Jun 25, 2009 at 05:02 AM
    The construction company reported that they would miss the deadline on the 9th grade building and no one took them to task over it. Kent continues to Stonewall the accreditation issue. He doesn't even consider teacher morale one of the issues. Barrett goes off on a condescending diatribe about how everyone is just being negative and forgetting that there are good students in the district ( as if we are too dumb to know that). It goes on and on. How can we get rid of this ship of fools and right our district before they sink all of us?
  • by Christian Educator on Jun 24, 2009 at 10:26 PM
    It is PRAYING time. We as a whole must pray that right will prevail. In order for our district to move forward, we have to come together and do what is best for all involved. It starts at the top. If the leadership is lacking, then everything else will lack. We need to do what is right. It doesn't matter whether we are black or white, it only matters if we are doing what is best for MPSD. I am an educator with the district, and I loved teaching prior to this incident, and will continue to love it. My biggest concern is doing what is right. We expect our students to do what is right, yet we as adults are not living up to that expectation. Teachers need support from the Supt., Board, Parents,and the entire community. If we do what's best, whether it is to fire or keep those involved with the testing violation, we will be successful. Yes, it is out in the open, but let us as a district pull together, pray together, and make MPSD rise to the top again. We can and we will.
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