No variable specified
APS superintendent addresses upset North Atlanta community
by Caroline Young
October 09, 2012 09:12 PM | 4788 views | 1 1 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
North Atlanta High School students swarmed the sidewalk outside of the Buckhead school’s gymnasium entrance Tuesday evening before Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis addressed the school's parents, teachers and students regarding Friday’s sudden dismissal of six administrative staff members, including interim Principal Mark MyGrant, nearly a month prior to when the new principal Howard Taylor's term will begin.

Students held signs stating phrases like, “We deserve answers.”

“We can handle change. Change is different from ambushing a community of parents and students," said parent Andrea Shelton.

In his introductory remarks, Davis said he was there to at least provide some clarity to the school community, but realizes it may not be satisfied.

“Four APS employees were assigned in other places within APS,” he said. “We advised the previous principal [MyGrant] his service was no longer required. …That is a personnel matter and I won’t say anymore about that.”

He said no one was actually locked out of the building Friday and all of the employees were reassigned to “meaningful jobs” with the same pay.

“Why did you choose to do this now? Why not over Christmas break?” asked 11th-grader Kyle Coleman.

The main reason Davis gave for the sudden change was related to performance standards.

“We are moving into a $100 million facility [next year] and I want our performance as a system and as a school to be on that level as well,” he said. “The performance data I have for this school says it has to improve quickly. … That is part of the challenge here. … I’m not here to bash this school. This school has great potential."

He said Taylor has “turned schools around” and he will be deciding who will be the new administrative staff.

During Davis' address, MyGrant made a brief appearance, simply to walk in and out of the gymnasium, and applause filled the room.

“It’s never our intention to humiliate anyone,” Davis said. “We spent a lot of time planning their reassignments. Obviously we missed the mark on that - not embarrassing them. We respect them as individuals. That does not mean that because I respect them that I do not think a new team should be put in place.”

In reference to the formal Open Records request MyGrant filed to the system earlier this week to apparently expose an anonymous teacher's claims of racism against two of his former administrators, Shelton asked Davis, "Do you believe any information from the Open Records request will support your reasons for getting rid of the administration or do you believe it will reflect otherwise?"

But Davis said he was unaware of the Open Records request and repetitively stated his decision was based on academic performance.

"No allegations of racism have been made by this administration toward anyone," Davis said.

However, Davis was faced with question after question from the school’s community.

Several people expressed concern about how the transition would be difficult to students adjusting to a new administrative staff so suddenly.

"Tomorrow, doors open and these kids go back to school. I would like to get from you some assurance that there will be a structure set in place where students can get in touch their former leaders. We need that structure," said Larry Register, a father of a senior. "Just please don't hurt us anymore. This community is hurting and this community is angry.

"You talked about humanity. Where is the humanity in taking away these people who have worked with our seniors for four years? Can you bring those people back to us so we can say thank you and goodbye?"

Davis said he can arrange for an opportunity for the administrators to come back and bid adieu.

"I certainly cannot guarantee that the administrators will come back or want to come back to bid you goodbye," he said.

*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides