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Holmes Co. Schools files for restraining order against state education leaders, governor

(WKYT)
Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 11:45 AM CDT
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HOLMES CO., Miss. (WLBT) - Holmes County Consolidated School District filed for a temporary restraining order Thursday against Mississippi education leaders after the state’s board of education requested the governor to shut the district down.

If granted, the restraining order would stop further action by the governor per the school board’s recommendation.

The news comes about a month after a state audit revealed dozens of violations within the district including mishandling finances and inaccurate reporting to the Mississippi Department of Education.

Recently hired Superintendent Dr. Debra Powell agreed with the audit but said she’d done a total restructuring inside Holmes County Consolidated School District since May 18.

In two separate hearings last week, two agencies disagreed and claimed an extreme emergency still exists in HCCSD - the Commission of School Accreditation and Mississippi State Board of Education.

Both CSA and SBE determined an emergency exists because HCCSD has serious violations of federal and state law and accreditation standards, serious concerns regarding financial resources, inappropriate standards of governance, and a continued pattern of poor academic performance.

The most recent hearing with SBE ended Tuesday with members recommending the governor take over the F-rated district immediately.

That would result in completely new leadership.

The governor had until August 17 to respond but Thursday’s court filing intercepts this process.

The district and board members filed an emergency temporary restraining order based on the following:

  • Petitioners (HCCSD) did not receive a fair and impartial hearing, which violates the Petitioner’s due-process rights
  • The statute upon which the respondents acted is unconstitutional in that it fails to establish a standard of proof in advance of the hearings at issue in this lawsuit, which deprived Petitioners of due process
  • There is a substantial threat Petitioners (HCCSD) will suffer irreparable injury if the temporary restraining order is denied as Petitioners will have no other remedy at law to protect their due-process rights once the Governor accepts the recommendation to dissolve the Holmes County Consolidated School District
  • The threatened injury to Petitioners (HCCSD) outweighs any damage that the temporary restraining order will cause Respondents. If the relief is granted, Respondents will suffer no harm. Meanwhile, if the requested relief is denied, Petitioners will be irreparable injured as set forth above
  • The temporary restraining order will not disserve the public interest. Ultimately, the public interest is best served when the law is followed, including constitutional protections afforded under the Due Process Clause
  • Should the Court choose to exercise its discretion, Petitioners welcome the opportunity to file a memorandum brief in support of the relief requested herein pursuant to Local Rule

Here’s Thursday’s court filing:

Mississippi Department of Education says it does not comment on matters in litigation.

WLBT is waiting to hear back from Governor Tate Reeves.

There’s no word on if the restraining order will stop the governor from moving forward with a possible takeover.

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