State Auditor Says Schools Violating Textbook Law

August 14, 2013

JACKSON- Over the past year, audits of school districts in Mississippi performed by the Performance Audit Division of the Office of the State Auditor have found most schools in violation of state law mandating that textbooks be distributed to school children.

From the Associated Press:

Mississippi school systems are routinely violating a state law that says they have to issue a textbook to every student to take home, the state auditor says.

Stacey Pickering said that many districts are only buying enough books for a set to keep in each classroom, which may mean a student can’t take a book home to study. Others are relying on photocopied material, or even in some cases using state-issued sample tests for their main instructional material.

“From our standpoint, what we have found is the vast majority of schools are not compliant with state law,” Pickering said.

For some districts, the problems stem from bad record-keeping or lack of money. But other districts say that in many classes, they’re abandoning the traditional textbook. For example, in lower grades, most districts reviewed by Pickering’s office use “consumables,” soft-bound books that may have worksheets that can be torn out. Many teachers now use a combination of resources including online programs.

Pickering said he wants to meet with school leaders to discuss possible changes to the law.

“If our audits prove districts are not in compliance with the law, I think the question is, is the law reasonable?”

An Associated Press review of 35 compliance audits conducted during the 2012-2013 school year found that more than 19,000 students didn’t have books assigned. Typically, about two-thirds of students sampled in each of those 35 districts didn’t have a book of their own.

Additional Resources:

– All performance audits can be viewed here. Along with compliance regarding textbook law, MSIS audits also review data related to student enrollment, attendance, reporting, suspensions, safety, property controls, and other areas.

– Of the 46 school districts reviewed during the 2012-2013 school year, just one (Pascagoula School District) was found to be in compliance with state law.

– Textbook laws are found in Sec. 37-43-1 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 and can be viewed here.