Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves today appointed three individuals with strong experience in education to the newly created Public Charter Schools Authorizing Board. The board will monitor the creation and management of public charter schools in Mississippi.

Reeves appointed Ridgeland attorney Tommie Cardin, Ocean Springs Superintendent Bonita Coleman-Potter and Oxford businesswoman Karen Elam to the board. The appointees will be presented for confirmation by the Mississippi Senate in the 2014 legislative session.

“I appreciate the commitment of Mr. Cardin, Dr. Coleman-Potter and Dr. Elam to contribute their time and expertise to creating a strong public charter school program,” Reeves said. “Every child in Mississippi deserves an opportunity for a better education, and public charter schools allow parents to have school choice for their children.”

House Bill 369, passed in the 2013 legislative session, allows public charter schools to open in school districts rated “D” and “F.” The schools can open in districts rated “A,” “B,” or “C” unless the local school board blocks parents’ requests for public charter schools.

Public charter schools are subject to the same federal and state regulations as traditional schools. Mississippi is one of 43 states to allow public charter schools to operate, giving parents a choice in their children’s education.

The new members will join appointees by Gov. Phil Bryant, which include Johnny Franklin, Chris Wilson and Krystal Cormack. State Superintendent Lynn House also serves on the board.

Reeves’ appointees are:
Cardin, a Clinton resident, is past president of the Clinton Public School District Board of Trustees and served on the board of directors for the Central District of the Mississippi School Boards Association. He has been an adjunct professor at Mississippi College School of Law. Currently, he is the practice group leader of the government, environment and energy group at Butler Snow.

He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mississippi State University and earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the public charter school board,” Cardin said. “When set up and run properly, public charter schools offer students in poorly performing districts a chance at a better education. Our job will be to make sure applicants for public charter schools meet all legal requirements to position themselves for success.”

Coleman-Potter, a former Clinton teacher, brings experience managing public charter schools to the new board. Prior to serving as Ocean Springs superintendent, she was deputy superintendent of Prince George’s County Public Schools in Maryland where her duties included overseeing the district’s public charter schools.

Previously, Coleman-Potter worked at the Mississippi Department of Education as associate state superintendent for Office of Academic Education and as Bureau Director in the Office of Reading, Early Childhood and Language Arts. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Tougaloo College, a master’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi and a doctorate in educational administration from Jackson State University.

“I look forward to the opportunity to shape Mississippi’s new public charter schools to give more educational opportunities to students,” Coleman-Potter said. “I have seen public charter schools work in other states around the country, and I know we can be just as successful in Mississippi.”

Elam, an Oxford resident, is a businesswoman and former college professor. She is president of Elam Consulting representing food and drug ingredient industry associations on regulatory issues.

Previously, she worked at Nabisco Inc. where she held several positions, including senior director of consumer and scientific affairs and senior director of nutrition and consumer affairs. Elam created policies on nutrition, health and food safety, and helped the company develop product growth strategies and markets. Prior to her work at Nabisco, she was an associate professor of human nutrition, foods and food systems management at the University of Missouri and an assistant professor of food science and human nutrition at Michigan State University.

She has a bachelor’s degree in home economics education from Purdue University, a master’s degree in food science from Michigan State University and a doctorate in consumer economics from the University of Missouri.

“Public charter schools will raise the quality of education Mississippi children are receiving as well as provide an incentive for traditional schools to strive for improved results,” Elam said. “I look forward to serving and helping shape this new initiative to provide families better school choice.”

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves