Concerns are being raised about alleged high teacher turnover within the Meridian Public School District.
"I've heard of more teachers leaving and contemplating leaving within the last 30 to 40 days than I have in many years," says Representative Charles Young, Junior, who represents District 82. "We have just chaos in our classrooms right now."
State Representative Charles Young, Junior is describing his view of what's currently happening within the Meridian Public School District. He says this is due to restrictions that school officials face because of an agreement the district reached with the Justice Department earlier this year. That agreement resolved a decades old desegregation case that involved the district. It calls for student punishment to be fair and non-discriminatory.
Stating that changes were needed, Representative Young says the agreement goes too far.
"They know that the teachers nor the administrators in the school system are able to really punish or penalize those children for actions until they've had a 7th or 8th offense," says Young. "So, they're going in cursing teachers out, having temper tantrums, throwing tables and chairs, and there's just no kind of discipline."
"The year that this district lost its most teacher was 2010-2011; 27% of the teachers left this district in 2010-2011, and that was well before PBIS or the consent decree came into action," says MPSD Superintendent, Dr. Alvin Taylor. He stresses that teacher turnover is a national problem. As for concerns about the agreement with the Department of Justice, Dr. Taylor says the district is mandated to honor that for the next three years.
"There are provisions in the consent decree that show once we collect the data, if we see that there's an area that's not working then we can go to DOJ and say, 'Look, in this particular area we don't feel like it's working and we're going to request that you tweak this.'"
Before making such a request, Dr. Taylor says district officials will closely evaluate data results on areas of interest. In January Dr. Taylor says he will likely request for the Justice Department to review the provision within the agreement that involves disciplinary action for fighting. So far this year he says there has been an increase in the number of fights at the district's secondary schools.
Meanwhile, Representative Young says he's in the process of contacting officials with the Department of Justice about his concerns. He's hopeful that those issues will be addressed by January.