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.

Judge Gowan ruled on JPS’ request anyway, and found that for him to grant a restraining order or injunction would overstep his judicial authority. State takeovers are ultimately determined by the governor.

“This court would be remiss to now take this decision out of the Governor’s hands, who has not overstepped his executive authority and has not been made a party to this action, simply because petitioners were unhappy with the amount of time the Commission and the State Board of Education took to declare a state of emergency in the Jackson Public School District,” Gowan wrote.

Read his full order here. Read more about the impending takeover of JPS at jacksonfreepress.com/JPStakeover.