JEFFERSON DAVIS COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Will Russell, the Superintendent for the Jefferson Davis County School District , released a statement Thursday regarding the realignment of two Jefferson Davis County high schools. The statement is posted below.
The Jefferson Davis County School District's decision to realign has been under review for several years. Our district's board of directors and the superintendent realized that the need was urgent and action must be taken. Therefore, the decision to realign or combine our two high schools was approved. We are currently in the second phase of a three phase planning and review strategic plan to ensure accurate transition of this realignment to begin school year 2017. The plan was under review for one year to ensure that the community, parents, students, and the district had ample time to discuss and identify any issues or problems that might be pertinent. During the planning process, we have held community meetings in each of our five districts to ensure that all voices were heard. In August the board approved to submit our plan of realignment to both the Mississippi Department of Education and the Mississippi High School Activities Association (a copy of this letter will be placed on our district website). The Mississippi Department of Education has been an integral piece in our planning and systemic review of this endeavor. On September 26, 2016, we submitted the letter of explanation of our process to Dr. Wright, State Superintendent of Education. On October 11, 2016, we submitted our numbers for the central high school to the Mississippi High School Activities Association to ensure accuracy and approval of our athletic department to participate in all state activities. On October 26, 2016, our district was served an injunction to stop the realignment process. It is imperative to state that on November 14-15, 2016 our school board and superintendent were participating in the Mississippi School Board Association's leadership training in Jackson. On November 15, 2016, at 4:54 pm an emergency injunction was served to submit a separate set of numbers for each school to the Mississippi High School Activities Association and the chancery court judge denied this injunction. One set of numbers for one district high school have been previously submitted to MHSAA. The MHSAA met to set classifications for the next two school years. The district high school was approved to participate in 8-3A competition (the classification information can be found on the MHSAA website). If further action were taken to halt the realignment process and keep the high schools separate, our students would not be able to participate in any MHSAA sponsored events through the next two years. By not being allowed to participate in MHSAA events, this means that none of the students in the Jefferson Davis County School District could participate in any PLAYOFFS OR STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS. In addition, these results could also place a significant financial burden on the district as the student population is declining. Further, the continued efforts to halt this process would diminish the goal to improve educational opportunities for all students through both athletics and academics that our current school board follows as their guiding principle. As stated before, the school board has voted to realign and is moving forward with planning and preparation. Although yesterday was about athletics, the big picture is that we are working hard to increase the quality of education that each child in the district receives. The vision of our district is that all students will achieve lifelong learning, reach proficient in all academic areas, and will contribute to the community in a positive manner. It is our hope that we can all move forward as a county and community to work together to provide the best for our children.