State to intervene in Halifax schools

RALEIGH The move comes after a superior court judge called the district's academic performance "academic genocide," and "nothing less than an academic disaster."

Judge Howard Manning's words seem to have found their mark.

Perdue said Wednesday that the state will take the unprecedented step of making a direct intervention. Perdue said State Board of Education Chair and CEO Bill Harrison and State Superintendent June Atkinson are on board.

"My goal is to improve public schools and student performance. Dr. Harrison, Superintendent Atkinson and I will act aggressively in Halifax County and all of North Carolina to make sure our schools have the support, direction and accountability that give our kids a chance to succeed," said Gov. Perdue.

The plan will be presented to Judge Manning at an April 29 hearing. Manning has made it his business to oversee academics in North Carolina public schools since handling the Leandro v. State of North Carolina decision more than a decade ago. His ruling in the case - brought by the parents of children in poorer school districts - said children have the right to equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.

Under the intervention plan, state education workers will support and oversee teaching principals and school leadership with the goal of improving student learning.

"Halifax Superintendent Geraldine Middleton has been receptive to us and we look forward to helping her and her team move forward,” said Harrison.

The plan includes:

· 3 weeks of professional development for principals and central office personnel

· 2 weeks of professional development to teachers

· 12 full-time master educators hired by Halifax County Schools to help classroom teachers improve instruction

· 3 school transformation coaches provided by the NCDPI and

· A district transformation coach provided by the NCDPI

· Consultation with NCDPI regarding use of federal and state appropriations.

Halifax County is one of 115 local school districts in North Carolina and serves approximately 4,400 students. The district northeast of Raleigh has 14 schools.

Judge Manning pointed to recent test scores that show 71.3 percent of students in grades 3 through 5 are not reading at grade level and 74.3 percent are not reading at grade level in grades 6 through 8.

"This is irrefutable evidence of a complete breakdown in academics," said Judge Manning last month.

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