Group Sues to Prevent Mound Bayou School Closing

MOUND BAYOU, MS (Ben Caxton) — An attorney representing a Mound Bayou group has sued the school board to stop the closure of John F. Kennedy High School. The board made a decision to close the school and move all high school students to Broad Street High School at a meeting in January. this week the board was served with an injunction delaying the move until a court has a chance to hear arguments from both sides in the dispute. A group calling itself “JFK United” , represented by attorney Debra Giles, said in court documents that the decision should be vacated because Superintendent Maurice Smith does not have the proper credentials to act as school superintendent so he had no authority to recommend a course of action to the school board, that the decision to merge the schools was made in closed session in violation of the Open Meetings Act, and that because of a 1983 court order to improve racial integration, that the board requires Federal Court permission for the move. The board previously cited unsustainable expenses as the cause for the move to merge. The district was $1,000,000 in the red one year ago, and $750,000 this year. Much of the deficit is caused by unusually high staff costs. Payroll is between 70% and 80% of an average school district’s budget. At North Bolivar, that figure exceeds 95%. The lawsuit and injunction did not suggest a remedy as to how the board should continue to pay those expenses without sufficient income.


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