By JOEL McNEECE
The Calhoun County School Board is considering a proposal to require any new students to show legal guardianship prior to being admitted. Superintendent Mike Moore told the board Monday that the consensus of recent meetings with principals and counselors is that the school district should no longer accept affidavits as part of the admission process.
Moore explained that affidavits, a sworn statement in writing witnessed by an authorized official, are easy to come by and not always reliable. The proposal before the board is to require paperwork showing a legal guardian living in the district. Legal guardianship is an act of the courts and more reliable, Moore said.
The issue is students, primarily high school, moving into Calhoun from other districts, often out of state, and enrolling here because they were in some kind of trouble where they were.
“We always encourage our schools not to accept a student until we receive a record from the previous school,” Moore said. But often even those records are not accurate. Moore said some schools wanting to dismiss a student with discipline problems, will offer him/her a release with no marks on their record if they go somewhere else.
Moore said the school does all the background checks they can, but it’s often difficult to find all the information needed, even which grade the student should be admitted in.
Denying admission based solely on an affidavit would make it more difficult for students to flee trouble from one school to enter Calhoun Schools.
Moore said if the new policy is adopted, it would be applied to all new students entering the district beginning next school year. He said it would be nearly impossible to apply to current students enrolled. He estimated 25% or more of the children in Calhoun’s school district live with a grandmother, aunt or uncle that aren’t legal guardians.
School board member Danny Harrelson, of Bruce, asked if the policy could be applied to transfers.
“From what I'm hearing that's where the problem is,” Harrelson said.
Harrelson asked the board to consider more stringent policies regarding in-district transfers a few months ago. Superintendent Moore said then he would conduct meetings with principals and School Board President Billy McCord to explore the issue.
Moore explained due to McCord’s illness, he was in the hospital for two months, those meetings haven’t taken place yet, but hopes are to have the first next week since McCord returned Monday night to preside over the board.
“We need to get something in time to go in the handbook,” Harrelson said. “It's an ongoing problem.”
In other news, Calhoun County Schools' Career and Technical Center is now officially one of the best in the state after earning state accreditation.
Roy Cresap and Mike Barkett with the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation announced to the school board Monday night the Career Center has now earned state accreditation in the areas of construction and manufacturing.
They explained that among the 106 vocational centers in Mississippi, only 22 have qualified for this high standard.
"You have programs here you should be proud of," Cresap said. "It's a beautiful facility. It's as good as it gets in the state."
Barkett, state director of the foundation, said there's not another one in the state that could compare in terms of facilities and equipment.
"Your center is just exceptional," Barkett said. "We look to see if you're doing what you're supposed to do so young people can go to school or get a job. You're doing extraordinary at both."
Career Center director Don Hardin thanked his team of educators at the center and the school district for establishing the center.
"This was a long time coming," Hardin said. "We're very proud of our Career and Technical Center and are committed to continue making it better and better for our students."
Superintendent Mike Moore and School Board President Billy McCord echoed those sentiments.
"This is something we needed a long time ago but we've got it now and it's making a tremendous difference for our students," Moore said.
Other items approved by the board:
*Set May board meeting for Monday, May 23.
*Student expulsions from BHS and CCHS.
*Out of district student transfers - Ryan Wilson, Willa Wright and Justus Wright from Calhoun to Pontotoc County, Rachel McCraw from Houston to Calhoun.
*Personnel - Travis England hired as summer maintenance worker; Bobbie Goralczyk resigned as bookkeeper/secretary of VHS, Tiffany Hendrix will transfer into Goralczyk position.