The Children First Act of 2009 – Senate Version

The following is a Mississippi Department of Education summary of the Senate version of The Children First Act – SB 2628

Section 2 :

  • Authorizes the State Board of Education to define underperforming schools and districts, using such factors as student assessment data, graduation rate, dropout rate and completion rate.
  • Requires a school district to publish an annual report in a local newspaper and on its web site by November 1. The State Board shall prescribe the contents of the report, a copy of which must also be made available at the district.
  • Adds a district’s underperformance for two consecutive full school years to the list of conditions when the State Board may declare an extreme emergency situation. This gives authority to the State Board to remove a superintendent and school board members and to abolish the district when the governor declares an extreme emergency (granted under Section 37-17-13).
  • Establishes within MDE the Mississippi Recovery School District under the supervision of a Deputy Superintendent of Education to provide leadership, management and oversight of all school districts under state conservatorship. The State Board shall develop policies for the operation of the Mississippi Recovery School District . The Deputy Superintendent of Education shall supervise conservators assigned to a school district and hear appeals from the districts under conservatorship that would normally be heard by local school boards.

Section 3:

  • Requires that, beginning with fiscal year 2010 activity, the state auditor shall either conduct audits on districts every 4 years or approve the CPA firms to conduct the audits.
  • Requires that, beginning with audits of fiscal year 2010, no CPA firm that has audited a district for 3 or more consecutive years shall be selected to conduct that district’s audit.
  • Requires a district to pay for the audit including the review performed by the state auditor.

Section 4:

  • Requires the auditing of districts to comply with Section 7-7-211(e).
  • Requires that, when a financial advisor is appointed to a school district, there is an automatic referral to the State Board of Public Accountancy if negligence has been suspected in an audit of that district.

Section 5:

  • Requires local superintendents to undergo training with school board members when they are serving in a district with one or more underperforming schools.

Section 6:

  • Requires MDE to provide technical assistance to districts not meeting adequate performance, subject to appropriations.
  • Requires underperforming districts to implement such training, programs and other requirements.

Section 7:

  • Voids all contracts in a district when the Governor declares a state of extreme emergency in that district (per Section 37-17-6(11)(b).

Section 8:

  • Further defines “good cause” to relate to the dismissal of employees in districts where the Governor has declared a state of emergency (per Section 37-17-6(11) (a) and (b).

Section 9:

  • Provides that the Education Employment Procedures Law shall not apply to employees in districts where the Governor has declared a state of emergency (per Section 37-17-6(11).

Section 10:

  • Requires a school district that has been designated underperforming as defined by the State Board to establish a community-based Pre-K through higher education council.
  • Requires the council to include economic developers, elected officials, civic leaders, business leaders, faith-based leaders, parents, social services, nonprofit organizations, school attendance officers, law enforcement officials, health department officials, daycare providers, librarians, and others with knowledge and resources to build strong communities.
  • Requires the State Board to develop a procedure for appointing members of such council which cannot be appointed solely by the local school board.

Effective Date: July 1, 2009

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