Arkansas school district placed on probation, could lose accreditation

LEE COUNTY, Ark. — An Arkansas school district has been placed on probation after it failed to meet staffing and course requirements.

According to the Times-Herald, the Arkansas Board of Education voted to put the Lee County School District on probation Thursday after it failed to hire enough counselors for the student body.

In addition, the district has reportedly failed to provide the 38 required courses.

If the district does not make the necessary adjustments in the 2017-2018 school year, the schools could lose accreditation.

Arkansas Online reported school officials swapped blame for the lack of a school counselor.

School Board member Patrick Walton told the state education board they wanted to hire a retired teacher to fill the position, but Superintendent Willie Murdock pulled an English teacher to fill the job.

As a result, the class is being taught online.

However, Murdock said that was not true.

“We made recommendations on staffing, and those recommendations were denied,” she reportedly said.

She went on to say that the teacher who was placed in the open counselor position showed an interest in the job and a replacement English teacher has been found.

“If I’m allowed to do my job, we wouldn’t be on probation or in fiscal distress,” she added.

This is not the first time the district has been in trouble.

In April 2014, the state took over the district after less than half of its students failed to test at a proficient level over three years.

Those elected school board members were dismissed, and a new group voted in.

Murdock was the superintendent at that time as well, but was allowed to stay to manage the district under state supervision.

She was fired last month by the current board but was granted a court injunction allowing her to stay until her contract expires in June.

The probationary status comes as the district was set to be released from the state’s fiscal distress program.

That has been delayed.