JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Thursday, June 16, the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted to begin the process to return the Tunica County School District (TCSD) to local control.

The SBE has governed the TCSD since 2015 when it determined an extreme emergency existed in the district and asked the governor to declare a state of emergency. Officials said the district violated 25 of the 31 accreditation standards the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) reviewed.

Accreditation audits found serious deficiencies in special education, federal programs, instructional programs, career technical education and district governance.

SBE-appointed interim superintendent Dr. Margie Pulley has been leading the district since 2015, during which she implemented high-quality instruction, and sound financial management and brought all accreditation standards into compliance. Under her leadership, the district’s accountability grade improved to a C after a four-year track record of D and F grades.

Pulley will continue to lead the district under the SBE’s direction through December 31, 2023. The new Tunica County School District board will begin serving as voting members on January 1, 2024.

“Dr. Pulley has done an outstanding job leading the administrators, teachers, and staff of the Tunica County School District in service to students,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “Her student-centered, data-driven focus and strong management transformed the district from a state of emergency to an academically strong, fiscally sound organization. Most importantly, her effective instructional leadership significantly improved student achievement.”

The SBE’s vote on Thursday authorized the MDE to seek applications for potential board members for TCSD. School board members will represent each of Tunica County’s five school board member districts.

Selected applicants will serve the school district in an advisory capacity to interim superintendent Dr. Pulley from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023. The selected applicants will serve as voting school board members from January 1, 2024, through December 31, 2024.

Board members may continue to serve after 2024 provided they are elected during their applicable November elections.

Interested applicants for the Tunica County School Board must complete and submit an application to the MDE by Friday, July 15, 2022.