SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts education officials are calling for a state takeover of Southbridge public schools.
Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester recommended Friday that the school district be downgraded to a Level 5, or chronically underperforming designation. If the recommendation is approved by the state board of education, the district would be placed under state receivership.READ MORE: 'A Step In The Right Direction': Juneteenth A Symbol Of Hope For Many In Boston
Chester cited “low academic performance, low graduation rates and unstable leadership” in the Southbridge schools.
The schools have gone through a lot of personnel changes in the past couple of years.
“I think the commissioner’s primary concern was about the long-term, consistent leadership at both the school district with the superintendent and the high school principalship,” interim Superintendent Timothy Connors told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope on Friday.
Since 2011, the district has had seven superintendents, while the high school has had seven principals.READ MORE: Video Shows Bear Entering Truck In Thornton, NH
The high school also doesn’t have a teacher or aid who speaks Spanish to teach students who need to learn English.
A recent review found 34 percent of middle and high school students failed at least one course in 2015, and 19 percent of students were suspended at least once last year.
Southbridge is about 60 miles west of Boston, with a population of just below 17,000.
Lawrence and Holyoke are the only other Massachusetts school districts currently under state receivership.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)