Jackson Schools ‘Better Together’ Commission Meets This Afternoon

The “Better Together” Commission, a coalition of school, city, nonprofit and business leaders, will meet tonight at 4:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Gardens Community Center located at 4125 Sunset Drive, Jackson, MS.

The Commission is tasked with two roles in helping the Jackson Public School District. First, the group must issue a request-for-proposal soon to hire a company to conduct a gap analysis of the district. Secondly, the commission must collect a large amount of community input through listening sessions, surveys and other engagement strategies. Gov. Phil Bryant opted to form the commission instead of allowing the Mississippi Department of Education to take over the district this fall. Continue Reading

DOJ to Jackson: Review ‘Sanctuary’ Policy

The U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t know the city of Jackson has a new mayor. In a letter addressed to Mayor Tony Yarber but dated Nov. 15, 2017, Alan Hanson, acting assistant attorney general, asked the city of Jackson to review its “sanctuary city” ordinance. Jackson has an ordinance that prohibits police officers in the city from asking about a person’s immigration status unless it is “relevant to the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense, or when processing an arrested person.” The ordinance, often referred to as a “sanctuary policy,” has been on the books since in 2010. Continue Reading

Hinds County Attorney Election Heads to Runoff

Malcolm Harrison and Gerald Mumford will head to a runoff for the Hinds County attorney election, after neither candidate managed to win 50 percent of the vote plus one. The election had three candidates, and interim Hinds County Attorney Martin Perkins pulled 7 percent of the vote. Harrison won 47 percent of the vote, while Mumford won 45 percent of total votes cast in the election. Only 9,960 Hinds County voters cast ballots on Tuesday, unofficial election results show. Harrison and Mumford will face off in two weeks for a runoff election. Continue Reading

Mayor Announces New JPS Board Nominees

Jackson City Council members will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the confirmation of five nominees for the Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees. In Jackson, the mayor appoints school board members, and the city council must confirm each member. The school board, like council, consists of seven members–one from each ward of the city. Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba has nominated five new board members, the agenda for the special meeting shows. The JPS School Board previously had four members before the State threatened a takeover of the school district. Continue Reading

Pearl Youth Court Shutters After Judge Allegedly Kept Mother from Child Due to Unpaid Fees

On Wednesday, the Pearl Municipal Youth Court closed permanently, and Youth Court Judge John Shirley resigned as youth court judge after Cliff Johnson, with the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, told Pearl officials about Shirley’s order blocking a mother from seeing her child until she paid court-ordered fees, a press release from the Center says. Judge Shirley entered an order on Aug. 22, 2016, prohibiting Johnson’s client, referred to as “Mother A” due to strict youth court confidentiality laws, from having any contact with her baby until she paid court fees in full, the press release says. Fourteen months later, Judge Shirley entered an order on Oct. 25 reversing his earlier decision and returning custody to “Mother A.” The mother was not represented by a lawyer in the Youth Court proceedings. Continue Reading

Judge Denies JPS’ Request to Stop Takeover

 

As the State Board of Education met to vote on whether or not Jackson Public Schools was in a state of “extreme emergency,” the district took legal matters into their own hands by asking a Hinds County Circuit judge for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the state from taking over their school district last month. On Monday, Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan denied the district’s request for a restraining order and injunction, saying that both the Commission on School Accreditation and the State Board of Education had followed state law by taking all of the proper steps to declare a district to be in an “extreme emergency.” JPS took issue with the Commission not following internal rules that allow a district 30 days to respond to an audit report, but Judge Gowan writes that since those internal rules are not statutory law, they are “subject to exceptions in certain necessary situations.” Gowan also notes that all state law allows school boards of any school district “aggrieved by any final rule, regulation or order of the State Board of Education…shall have the right to appeal therefrom to the chancery court.” In other words, if JPS wanted to dispute an order of the State Board, they should file a suit in chancery court, not circuit court. Continue Reading

Gov. Bryant Taps Top Senate Lawmaker for Court of Appeals

Gov. Phil Bryant tapped Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, to fill an open spot on the Mississippi Court of Appeals this week, leaving a hole in the state Senate’s leadership. Tindell chaired the Judiciary A Committee, which approved of and pushed out the “Blue Lives Matter” and anti-sanctuary city legislation in the 2017 session. Tindell also let House Bill 1523, House Speaker Philip Gunn’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination” bill, out of his committee in 2016. HB 1523 is still in federal court, challenged by Bryant. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will have to find a replacement for Tindell to chair the Judiciary A Committee, and Bryant will have to set a special election to replace Tindell soon. Continue Reading

Poll: Mississippians Less Optimistic about State’s Future, Support More Ed Funding

A new poll released by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies shows that Mississippians are less optimistic about the future of the state and the direction Mississippi is headed. Forty percent of the over 500 Mississippians polled believe the state is on the wrong track, while a little more than 36 percent believe Mississippi is headed in the right direction. The poll also asked Mississippians about support for public education, and the majority of Mississippians believe funding for the state’s public schools is too low. Political party had little affect on the response for public education funding, with 45 percent of Republicans polled agreeing that funding for public schools is too low. Mississippians also gave approval ratings of three top lawmakers in the state: Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood. Continue Reading

Royal Commonwealth Society Comes to Mississippi: Did Bryant’s Loyalty Pays Off?

A year ago, Nigel Farage, a well-known Brexit-believer and former leader of the UK Independence Party in the United Kingdom, graced the stage for then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally in Jackson, Miss. Farage shared the stage with Trump, encouraging Mississippians to beat back the “Establishment” in the 2016 presidential election. Gov. Phil Bryant also graced that stage in August 2016, and after Trump won the election, Bryant found himself in good company with the Brexit boys again. Bryant reportedly invited Farage to the inauguration in D.C., where he introduced him to a room full of partygoers:

“We got the bad boys of Brexit here!” hollers Phil,” Guardian writer Marina Hyde wrote. Bryant’s connection to the United Kingdom did not stop in D.C. apparently, and on Sept. Continue Reading

Gov. Bryant Appoints New Judge to Mississippi Supreme Court

Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Mississippi Court of Appeals Judge David M. Ishee to the Mississippi Supreme Court, after he tapped Justice Jess Dickinson to lead the Division of Child Protection Services, vacating his seat on the high court. Ishee served for 13 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals. “The Mississippi Court of Appeals is a hard working court that handles a high volume of cases. We look forward to Judge Ishee joining the Supreme Court,” Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said in a statement.  

Ishee will serve in Dickinson’s spot on the court; Dickinson was only halfway through his second eight-year term on the state’s high court when Bryant pulled him to be CPS commissioner. Continue Reading