JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's Tunica County School District will regain local control next month after state education officials voted Thursday to end years of state conservatorship.

The State Board of Education has governed the district since 2015 after audits revealed it had violated 25 of the 31 accreditation standards reviewed by the Mississippi Department of Education. Serious deficiencies were found in special education, federal programs, instructional programs, career technical education and district governance, state officials said.

Those findings prompted former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to declare a state of emergency, putting the district under the control of an interim superintendent who brought all accreditation standards into compliance. Under Margie Pulley's leadership, the district improved math and English test scores, especially among the lowest-performing students.

The return to local control transfers responsibility to a new school board, which includes five former advisory board members appointed in 2022 to help prepare the district to transition back to local control. Those representatives will begin serving as voting school board members beginning July 1.

The board will officially appoint its preferred superintendent candidate on July 1.

Four other school districts remain under state control: Noxubee County School District, Holmes County Consolidated School District, Humphreys County School District and Yazoo City School District. The Board of Education may return a state-run district to local control after it corrects deficiencies and improves academic performance.

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