Natchez-Adams School District corrective action plan passed

Published 12:02 am Thursday, January 11, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Natchez-Adams County School Board passed a corrective action plan Wednesday to address unlicensed professional staff working in the district.

The hiring of unlicensed teaching staff earned the district a probationary status from the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation in October.

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The action plan, said Britaney Cheatham, who introduced the plan to the board, defines goals for each school in the district.

“It’s all of our goal to recruit effective, quality employees,” Cheatham told the board Wednesday in a specially called meeting. “This plan we’re putting in place will help us recruit those qualified employees.”

Superintendent Fred Butcher, who recommended the approval of the plan, said the hiring of the new staff has no fixed completion date, but rather is an ongoing process.

In the entire district, Butcher said approximately 18 unlicensed teachers or teaching staff were working in classrooms.

Some of the citations from the commission stem from licensed teachers working outside of their area of expertise, whereas other citations mention teachers who had no license at all.

Butcher said Cheatham and others had begun formulating the action plan in December. The plan must be given to the Mississippi Commission on School Accreditation to show efforts toward a fully licensed teaching staff.

The action plan gives the number of positions in which the teacher or staff member was unlicensed or unqualified and notes ways in which the school has tried to remedy that situation, either by outside hiring or by training the unqualified person or people who currently serve in the district.

At McLaurin Elementary School, where Cheatham is principal, three unqualified teaching staff members were employed. Cheatham said her school had offered several resources including mentorship, testing study material and professional development to unlicensed individuals.

While the existing staff was being prepped for licensure, however, Cheatham’s plan said she continued to look for replacements for the unlicensed professionals.

Part of the difficulty, Cheatham said, is recruiting qualified teachers to Natchez.

Butcher and Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald have spoken to the struggle to hire qualified teachers before, and said it is difficult to attract and retain teachers when pay is more competitive in neighboring states.

Seventeen other school districts in Mississippi were placed on probation in October, 12 of which were cited for having unlicensed professional staff teaching.

“It’s a state-wide problem,” Cheatham said. “We’re just trying to address it.”c