State board places 7 PBSD schools on probation

The majority of schools in the Pine Bluff School District were placed on probation by the Arkansas State Board of Education on Monday for violations of state standards.

All six of the district’s elementary schools were placed on probation after an instructor who provided gifted and talented services to all six failed to meet state licensure requirements, according to the state board.

Pine Bluff High School also was placed on probationary status after an instructor teaching a survey course failed to meet licensing requirements.

PBSD Superintendent Linda Watson said Tuesday that the Monday events have redoubled her resolve to ensure that all instructors have the required certifications necessary for their jobs.

“I am making sure that this August before classes start all of those people who are supposed to be teaching classes have licenses that line up with what they are teaching ahead of time,” Watson said. “If you’re supposed to be in classes required for a particular certification, then you’d better be in those classes.”

Watson said the situation with both teachers that resulted in the standards violations is frustrating to her because they could have been easily avoided.

“I have a district-level employee who provided services to our six elementary schools,” Watson said. “He is a certified teacher who was supposed to take some classes to get full licensure in his field. That person decided to move to another state and didn’t take those classes. They didn’t see the impact their decision would have on the whole school district.”

Watson said the director of the program in question for the upcoming school year will be certified and will fulfill all of their duties.

“As concerns Pine Bluff High School the course at issue was one that we didn’t have to offer,” Watson said. “The person teaching it had to fulfill the requirements of adding that licensure and they didn’t do it. We could have avoided the whole problem because it was a survey course and wasn’t required.”

Watson said the instructors involved will no longer be teaching the courses they were not certified to teach***.

The schools placed on probationary status are Broadmoor Elementary, Greenville Elementary, Oak Park Elementary, 34th Avenue Elementary, Southwood Elementary, W.T. Cheney Elementary and Pine Bluff High School.

All schools in the PBSD remain accredited but each of the schools placed on probationary status will be open to more serious actions if any of them are found to violate accreditation standards in the next school year.

Two consecutive years of probationary status for Dollarway High School led the state board to take over the Dollarway School District one year ago.

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***This article has been updated from its original version because of a correction. Click here to view the correction notice.