Education officials looking to suspend the license of a Clarksdale principal accused of cheating will have to wait.
The state teacher licensure commission’s hearing for Lowonda Tyler-Jones was scheduled to end yesterday. However, after four days of testimony from expert witnesses, the commission delayed the remainder of the hearing due to schedule constraints. So far, only four out of about 30 witnesses have testified.
One reason for the delay is because Jackson attorney, Lisa Ross, who represents Tyler-Jones, has been trying to discredit all of the state’s witnesses. She says it’s her job to sow doubt.
“We’re trying our case,” says Ross. “In every case, credibility is in question because the fact-finders have to determine whether what they say is worthy of credence.”
The Mississippi Department of Education began looking into cheating in Clarksdale since 2014. Young students were allegedly showing up to school and performing well below grade-level only months after scoring above average on state tests.
Yet, it remains unclear whether the state has looked into cheating at any other school district.
Raina Anderson Lee is the Special Attorney General for MDE’s Office of Educator Misconduct.
“Right now our focus is on Clarksdale,” says Lee. “But the importance hits all school districts, as far as the state department is concerned. It’s an important issue that the state felt compelled to address.”
Two other Clarksdale teachers have been also been the subject of MDE’s cheating investigation. Both had their license suspended.