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Accused of racism, North Atlanta teacher resigns
by Everett Catts
October 15, 2012 04:39 PM | 3367 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A North Atlanta High language arts teacher has resigned after being accused of racial discrimination.

Buckhead resident Amy Durham, who had taught journalism, British literature and world literature at the Buckhead school this year, left the school Oct. 12, two days after submitting her resignation letter, but denies the charges.

“It is an anonymous charge and there may have been several charges. [School board member] Reuben McDaniel said there have been multiple complaints but I have not been contacted directly about it,” Durham said in a phone interview Monday.

Durham’s resignation follows the sudden change of leadership at the school. On Oct. 5, interim Principal Mark MyGrant and five other school leaders were removed from the school and replaced with a transition team that awaits the start of new Principal Gene Taylor, who is expected to begin Oct. 29. MyGrant, who had come out of retirement to lead the school again, and Academy Leader Reginald Colbert started their retirement and the four other school leaders were reassigned to other district schools.

In her letter, Durham wrote she was not approved as a teacher by the school board at its August meeting and that she would not be on the list of approved teachers at its September meeting either.

“On Sept. 5, … I was also made aware that a charge of racial discrimination had been made against me in relation to my working part-time at North Atlanta’s College and Career Counseling Center during the 2011-2012 school year, and I surmised that perhaps this was the reason that my contract had not been approved,” she wrote. “My husband emailed [Regional K-12 Director of Schools] David White and [Superintendent] Erroll Davis on Sept. 6 seeking specific details to this scurrilous and false charge, but he received no word back from them about this accusation. I was ultimately informed on Sept. 18 by interim General Counsel Sharon Pitts that my contract had not been submitted for board approval because ‘there are outstanding questions regarding the selection process for this position.’”

Durham said she resigned because as an at-will employee without a contract, she could be fired at any time and felt she had little job security.

“I needed to do the best thing for myself and my family,” she said.

District spokesman Stephen Alford said Sunday the school system cannot comment on Durham’s resignation because it is a personnel matter.

Durham, who has two children who graduated from North Atlanta and two who currently attend the school, said she still loves it. She has been involved with the school system as a parent and volunteer for 15 years.

“It’s a great school,” Durham said of North Atlanta. “The community has been invested in the school. I’m not sure why it’s being attacked. I’ve been involved in that school for a very long time. Great kids, great faculty. The administration that was removed, most of them were great. I’m with a group of folks who are wondering what the real story is right now. It just doesn’t seem to add up right now.

“I used to work for IBM, which is in the business of making and selling computers. APS is in the business of educating children and that should be their first concern. That’s not always happening. It’s hard to see that right now.”

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