Despite ‘tactless’ APS meddling, North Atlanta to grow stronger

The Southerner

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BY ELIZABETH RAY, THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THENORTHERNERONLINE.COM

North Atlanta High School has recently endured a plethora of dramatic administration changes. Following interim superintendent Erroll Davis’s sudden decision to relocate all of the administrators to schools across APS, North Atlanta remains in turmoil.

Since Friday, Oct. 5, when the administrators were ousted from their offices, students have protested, parents have organized meetings and the school has been in a state of shock.

Administrators Laura Brazil (Global Broadcasting and Journalism Academy leader), John Denine (International Studies Academy leader), Reginald Colbert (Center for Performing Arts interim Academy leader), Melissa Gautreaux (assistant principal) and Mark MyGrant (interim principal), were escorted off campus with a security team. They were either relocated or released from their duties.

In a letter on the North Atlanta High School website, Davis cited the need for a transitional program with the new principal as the basis for this change. “Our principal mentor program is part of an improved process for introducing new school leaders to schools, utilizing a site-specific transition program,” Davis wrote.

Davis held a meeting in the North Atlanta gym Oct. 8 in an attempt to quell the complaints of the community. During Davis’s prepared speech, some underlying motives for this change were revealed. North Atlanta’s graduation rate is 62 percent; Davis claimed North Atlanta, given the resources of its community, should be the No. 1 high school in the district.

While the meeting did help answer the logistics of the upcoming changes, it also served to fan the flame of parents, students and teachers through its inclusion of inaccurate and misquoted facts.

Davis’s statement that the “school would be taken by the state and all of the administration fired” is simply incorrect. The state Department of Education has confirmed this multiple times.

Mr. Davis appears to feel that North Atlanta High School’s prestigious location should be in some way reflected in the performance of its student body. Analyst Jarod Apperson wrote on Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” Blog, published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “North Atlanta is, by and large, not made up of privileged, wealthy students. It is unreasonable to hold the school to a standard based upon the ‘resources’ of the area when wealthy kids and their resources go to private schools.”

As details emerge, the issue becomes increasingly complex. In addition to these facts, accusations of “institutional racism” have surfaced. Ousted interim principal Mark MyGrant said in an interview with 11 Alive News, “I truly believe that it [the allegations] stems from the very highest up; there might be even board involvement and that it’s just political greed gone wild.”

English teacher Amy Durham, who was accused of racist actions, was told that there were “outstanding questions” regarding her employment at North Atlanta. She resigned under duress from said allegations. Ms. Durham’s class now has a permanent sub.

Nancy Meister, our district’s Board of Education member, recently sent out an email clarifying her opinions on the matter:

“Without a clear understanding of North Atlanta’s history and an objective view of its outcomes, it is impossible to accurately measure success or failure. This community has been misled. Great gains have been made though the hard work of our cluster principals, administrators, teachers, business partners, parents and most of all students. These have gone unrecognized and have been buried beneath allegations and innuendo.”

The allegations of racism surfaced a few hours after the removal of the administrators on Oct. 5. Allegations of grade-changing and cheating were revealed in the media.

As a student, I would say that regardless of the integrity of the numerous allegations, the way in which the issues were handled was unprofessional and done with no tact.

I hope this issue serves to improve the way in which other APS schools are treated. The North Atlanta High School community will emerge stronger. We have matters to look forward to as well: a new gorgeous campus and a new principal, Dr. Gene Taylor.

Life at North Atlanta High School goes on.

 

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