The Mississippi NAACP held its annual legislative day on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to oppose the Children’s First Act and any proposals for charter schools.
The act is an accountability bill supporters say will help underperforming school districts. The bill would make it easier to fire superintendents and school board members, both appointed and elected. It also would allow any employee in a district that’s been taken over by the state to be fired. All employees would still receive due process, said State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds, who is promoting the measure.
The bill also would require regular state audits for all school districts.
“I do realize this is controversial,” Bounds told the committee. “We ought to be able to treat an emergency like an emergency.”
Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the Children’s First Act essentially penalizes schools that underperform because of a lack of resources. Johnson said lawmakers should be fighting to steer more state money into school districts.
“School districts are falling behind because of teacher shortages and a weak tax base,” Johnson said during a news conference in the Capitol rotunda.
Sen. Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, who supports the bill, said the Department of Education has had difficulty dismissing licensed employees.
“If they feel like they’ve got to remove some people who aren’t getting the job done, then this will give them leverage to do that quickly,” Tollison said.