Fayette County administrators have six months to shape up or face a take-over by the State Board of Education.

The state board has declared a "state of emergency" in Fayette after a report from the Office of Education Performance Audits reported improper hiring practices, failed leadership and very few gains in test scores.

Lowell Johnson, State Board president, said "We must take swift and immediate action."

The board is sending a team of consultants to help the county with its problems. That group will make recommendations to the county within 60 days.

The Fayette system failed three years in a row to meet federal achievement standards required by NCLB.

The county must improve incrementally toward a 2014 goal of all students performing on grade level.

The audit expressed concerns about relationships among former board members, the superintendent and central office administrators.

The report said some board members, both past and present, are uncertain of their roles in personnel and policy matters. Last July the board decided to hand all hiring decisions to the superintendent and personnel manager.

The state already runs schools in Hampshire, Lincoln, McDowell and Mingo counties, but has recommended that Hampshire and McDowell start working to regain local control.