Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis upset quite a few people over the weekend — far more than he probably imagined — in making quick and sudden changes to North Atlanta High School's leadership.
"I am not here to bash this school. This school has great potential,” Davis said, talking about the changes for the first time. “From 2007 to 2011, this school did not make AYP. Now, it is an NI-4 school, which means under some level of state monitoring and reporting."
"[The] graduation rate.. is at 62 percent, seventh from the bottom at APS," he continued. "This is not what I want for APS. This is not where we need to be. It means we are failing four out of every 10 of our children."
According to the AJC’s Maureen Downey, who live blogged the entire meeting, Davis answered approximately 60 questions from parents and students for nearly two hours. Many inquired about the unforeseen leadership shift — to which the superintendent pointed to the school’s "middle of the pack" performance.
"I don’t want that to be the standard for North Atlanta High School," Davis said. "With the kind of commitment, with the resources that are available in this community, this school should be at the head of the pack.”
“We are moving into a $100 million dollar facility next year,” he added. “I want our performance as a system and as a school to be on that level as well.”
The superintendent did not comment on "personal issues," refusing to talk about why interim principal Mark MyGrant — whom APS originally asked to come out of retirement as they searched for a long-term replacement — was fired.
At one point during the Q&A, MyGrant walked into the gym, receiving a standing ovation much to the superintendent's chagrin — who referred to the moment as “Kabuki Theater.”
Yesterday morning, Mygrant spoke outside the APS headquarters as he submitted a formal Open Records Request that inquired into racism allegations against two former members of his administration.
"I would have gladly put the keys under the mat and rode off into the sunset,” Mygrant said. “I was prepared to do that until I heard that other administrators were taken down by this."
The Executive Board of the North Atlanta PTSA also expressed their concerns prior to the meeting. In a statement, they said:
The PTSA had no knowledge of the APS personnel changes in advance of Friday’s dismissals.
We are appalled and disappointed with the unprofessional and disrespectful manner in which our administrators were treated. We expect APS officials to model respectful treatment of employees, students and parents, and we do not believe this standard was upheld.
Although we realize that change is inevitable with any transition, we believe the removal of this administrative team at this time is not in the best interest of our students and will adversely impact the students in the coming weeks and months.
The manner in which these actions occurred has cast a negative light on our school and district.
We believe the students, parents, faculty and our new principal, Dr. Taylor, deserve the institutional knowledge and stability provided by our former administrative team during this time of transition. We respectfully request the immediate reinstatement of our administrative staff.
We welcome our new principal Dr. Taylor and look forward to meeting him in the coming weeks and are committed to working with him to continue building excellence at North Atlanta High School.
Downey makes a great point in her analysis this morning — examining the state's 2010-2011 Report Card — nothing that: "It still isn’t clear why Davis thought that he had to yank the administrative team out of North Atlanta considering that Atlanta has 14 schools on the state’s priority list and most are high schools."
After last night's meeting, it seems that most parties involved in the turmoil remain uncertain about Davis' complete motives. But barring an unlikely reversal, Taylor will take over as North Atlanta High School's principal on Oct. 29 without the interim administration helping his transition.
UPDATE, 12:29 p.m.: Fox 5 reports that "dozens" of North Atlanta High School students are now protesting the administrative moves, walking out of class and demonstrating on the school's football field. School officials also told Fox 5 that walkout participants will face some sort of in-school suspension.
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