Live blogging from North Atlanta High meeting with Davis: Did he make his case?

8:03 p.m. Still five people on line to ask questions in a session that began 6:20 p.m.

Parent. (Final question at 8:09 p.m.) Have you told the truth and the whole truth?

Davis: I try to tell the truth.  When it gets to personnel matters, I am at a disadvantage as I can’t share that with you.

Student: Why now?

Davis: Already answered that. (Which he had, about a dozen times. Just not sure folks bought his answer.)

Student: Kids aren’t graduating. It is not the fault of the administrators. Kids aren’t doing the work.

Parent: Davis was correct in his opening statement. “We are not getting satisfaction from the meeting but also not getting clarity.” Why did this have to be so rushed, so cloak and dagger with no discussion with administrators involved?

Davis: I had a sense of urgency. I wanted to change leadership before new principal got here.

Student: Why remove administrators now as many have only been in jobs for one or two years so the school’s historic problems cannot be blamed on them?

Davis: “I looked back five years and did not see the performance this school should have”. Administrators individually are fine. As a team, they weren’t succeeding. “It’s not a sin to be in the middle of the pack. But I don’t want that to be the standard for North Atlanta High School. With the kind of commitment, with the resources that are available in this community, this school should be at the head of the pack.”

Davis says APS has done value-added computations on how many months of gains students register in each high school. At North Atlanta, students gain 10 months in nine months of school. But at Carver, students gain 17 months in that time, “almost twice,” said Davis.

Parent: Can you bring back those people so we can say thank you and goodbye? (That question earned a standing ovation.)

Davis: Yes, he can make that opportunity possible.

Student: I have a project here but now it been put on hold because shift in administrators. Could you not have kept the prior team?

Davis: Essentially, he said “no.” But he applauded students and their interest and their questions.

Parent: If other schools are failing, do you plan on similar actions there.

Davis: “Each school is different. I do not have similar plans for all those high schools.”

Parent: You have four very important positions to fill. What makes you think someone who can fit that bill come to place where they can subject to bloodless Coup d’état at any time?  (Applause)

Davis: “They will come here to work under exciting new leaders. I don’t have any doubts that we will be able to attract all the administrators.”

Parent: Do you think it is not too late to start over and do it right?

Davis: I feel very strongly about performance. That performance will, in fact, be changed and motivated by a group of new leaders. I think we have chosen an excellent one and believe he will choose an excellent team. In retrospect, we could have done a lot better on the process.

Bedlam at 6:58. Deposed principal Mark MyGrant has just entered packed gym. He gets a standing ovation.

Davis is clearly unhappy with MyGrant’s dramatic entrance and the warm welcome from a raucous crowd.

“We have had our Kabuki theater moment. Let her ask her question,” he says, gesturing to the speaker at microphone. There are 25 people behind her in line to ask questions. MyGrant leaves the gym.

“This should be our premier school in this city,” he said, in response to her question on why he felt that North Atlanta High was in need of urgent change in its leadership and why he yanked the four leaders of the Small Learning Communities.

Parent: “Please consider that these are communities, these schools.” Why were the beloved administrators treated with such disrespect? “If you have a decision like this coming, approach the community. Say, ‘Here is a problem. Let’s solve it together.’ Parent says Davis also tone deaf to community when he pulled teachers from Garden Hills in leveling last year. Parent came before him about that last year as well.

Davis: “I listened to you last year about leveling.” Changed leveling process. Still have it, but it is now two-step process: Talk about qualitative issues in that school before we move teachers. “Every decision you learn from.”

Parent: We can handle change. But change is very different than ambushing a community of parent and students. Will you reconsider if open records requests reveal why this was done?

Davis: Decision made on performance data and data will not change.

Student: Was racism a factor at all in these decisions?

Davis: “I have no knowledge of any charges or allegations of racism at this school…My decisions were made on performance, where we are and where we should be.”

Student: How does transferring the four administrators to other schools solve the problem if the administrators are to blame for North Atlanta’s poor performance?

Davis: Odd response to this: Something about the difference in individual sport performance vs. team sports.

Student: Similar question.

Davis:. Similar answer: He wanted the new principal to pick his entire new team so Dr. Taylor would not face any obstacles in turning school around.

Parent: Complained that Davis talking too slow to delay questions. Said he lacked any credibility. She left to applause from students.

Student: Why weren’t parents notified of changes?

Davis: “That is not going to a happen. There will never be a time, either with lead time or without lead time, when I seek permission from parents.”

Student: How will the new administration be able to succeed with hostility they will face from students. “Other than the counseling you mentioned.” (In earlier question on how students, coming back tomorrow from a break, will cope, Davis said counselors will be on hand.)

Student: But was school improving under the ousted administrators? What were the trends?

Davis: I don’t have that data. (Crowd unhappy with that response.) I believe progress has been made over time, but has enough progress been made?  Where are we now? What have we done over the last five years?

Parent: Why not at the beginning of the school year or over the summer? Why the emergency nature of the removals?

Davis: “Urgency is related to the appearance of the new principal. Again, the circumstances did exist, but we did not have new leadership coming.”

A 2005 graduate of NAHS: You knew this summer that school was in the needs improvement category this summer. “My concern is decision to take these administrators out almost halfway during the semester was done prematurely.” And replacements are only temporary. It is not the normal process to yank staff, put in replacements for a short time and then hire other people.

Davis: People are going to describe what the normal process is. I don’t want to take a year for that normal process. That is why I took actions I did.  He acknowledged that the actions were not usual, but were warranted because of the special circumstances. “It is not normal, but I hope it is brief.”

Parent: Son dreading school tomorrow, coming back from break, with administrators gone.

Davis: We will have counselors available at school Wednesday.

Parent: People loyal to us, retired from us. How can you justify this?

Davis: They were transferred under standard protocol. Ran Fortune 1000 company.  That is how we do it.

Parent: These were decent people.

Davis: “There is no debate about the decency of these people. If I didn’t think they were quality people, they would have not been reassigned. ”

Parent: Why take away web site access to PTSA?

Davis: Web site access was changed across system. (Guffaws)

6:23: Erroll Davis begins with his opening statements: “We can potentially have an unsatisfactory discussion for a number of reasons.” He says he can’t discuss specific personnel issues. “I am not going to do that.”

He will not say why principal Mark MyGrant was summarily dismissed Friday. He thanked the administrators transferred to new assignments.

“We did use our standard protocol for sensitive announcements but no one was escorted out of this building,” he said. (I assume the standard protocol refers to the presence of school officers as well as the demand that the four turn over their APS computers. I asked Davis after the event about why APS took the computers from the four staffers who were reassigned. He said it was standard industry protocol in sensitive job changes to confiscate the computers to protect data as employees can get upset and do damage or compromise data. He said the computers had been returned to the four.)

“My view is this school needs to be a lot more than it is presently. It has fantastic potential, fabulous support.”

“We are moving into a $100 million facility next year. I want our performance as a system and as a school to be on that level.”

He is now outlining the under performance of North Atlanta. “Performance data for this schools says it has to improve and improve quickly.”

“I am not here to bash this school. This school has great potential.”

“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.”

Now, school has to meet higher standards. “If I had a team that did not make the lower standards, why should I have confidence that it will be able to make the higher standards?”

“Graduation rate is higher than system average. It is at 62 percent, seventh from the bottom at APS. 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.”

“I don’t doubt that most parents in this room have children who are going to graduate. Through the eyes of your children where you get lots of the school experiences, you are hearing that they are having a great experience. ”

“But four out every 10 kids who walk through this door are not graduating.”

“This high school should be No. 1 under every factor. I have other concerns. I look at performance and what we were achieving and what we are achieving here. I have come to conclude with dynamic new principal coming, I want him to have every opportunity to succeed. ”

He says that he felt new principal could not succeed with the old administration in place. “So, I removed them and put them in different assignments.” He stressed that they did not lose status, pay or stature.

5:16: Parents arriving in red T-shirts proclaiming “APS Parent Satisfaction. O%”
Place is filling up fast.

5:21: About 100 North Atlanta High School students outside with signs and chants “We want answers” and “Bring them back.”
Lots of TV reporters. Lots of mulling parents. Erroll Davis arrives.

5:30: Talked to some students outside. They want to know what I think about why this happened. I tell them I don’t know, but I can’t understand why this was handled so badly by APS. They want to know about the comparison between what happened at NAHS and what didn’t happen at Jackson High. New principal appointed there as well, but no wholesale banishment of the administrative staff to jobs elsewhere. Why?

5:52: Talked to parents from Grady and Jackson. They are here to see why policies differ high school to high school.

5:53: TV crews are being confined to small  area next to me roped off with red cords. (I am sitting in third row. It pays to come at 3:50 p.m. for a 6 p.m. meeting. Some unhappiness among TV cameramen being crammed in small area. (Hey, Steve Alford, they need more space.)

5:58. All 400 seats are taken. Parents are now filling bleachers in the gym. Lots of security on hand. Stopping folks from walking near the podium.

5:59. School board chair Reuben R. McDaniel is here. North Atlanta rep Nancy Meister is also here. So is Cecily Harsch-Kinnane. Meister was about to sit in the reserved row, but was told it was for the transition team being brought to NAHS from the Central office. (The entire board may be here, but can’t walk around too easily to check.) The students with signs are now filling the other half of the gym. Probably nearly 800 people here or more. (

By the way, this diverse NAHS student body looks like an ad for Benetton. Young, attractive, engaged and united. Nice to see.

Among the signs: “It’s a say day at NAHS” and “New Day, No Way,” referring to Davis’ description of the removal of the old staff as a “new day.”

6:07: Where is Erroll Davis? He is in the building but not yet on the stage. This place has the feel of a Hawks game. Lots of excitement, noise and energy. And it’s a gym.

6:13: Still no Erroll Davis. I know he is here. Either he is prepping or waiting for the crowd to quiet down.

I am at the North Atlanta High School gym for the 6 p.m. meeting with APS school chief Erroll B. Davis.  (I am an hour early but I was worried about traffic and getting a seat.) Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts just arrived. School board member Emmett Johnson is now here.

6:18: Last sound check. One man in the crowd just yelled, “It’s 6:20 already.” It is actually 6:18.

6:19. Erroll Davis is about to speak. A hush is falling over the crowd, even the students. The board members are being introduced. Tepid response to board Chair McDaniel – who is cast as a factor in what happened at the school in some of the scenarios making the rounds — but warm and boisterous response to Meister’s name. Nice response as well for Harsch-Kinnane, Johnson and Brenda J. Muhammad. Crowd has filled

6:23: Davis: “We can potentially have an unsatisfactory discussion for a number of reasons. He says he can’t discuss specific personnel issues and “I am not going to do that.”

He will not say why principal Mark MyGrant was summarily dismissed Friday. He thanked the administrators transferred to new assignments.

“We did use our standard protocol for sensitive announcements..but no one was escorted out of this building,” he said. I assume the standard protocol refers to the presence of school officers.

My view is this school needs to be a lot more than it is presetly, It as fantastic potential, fablous support. We are moving into a $100 million facility next year, I want our performance as a system and a school to be on that level,

He is now outlining the under performance of North Atlanta. Performance data for this schools says it has to improve and improve quickly.

I am not here to bash this school. This school has great potential

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.

Now, school has to meet higher standards. If I had a team that did not meet lower standards, why should I have confidence that it will meet the higher standards?

Graduation rate is higher than system average. It is at 62 percent, seventh from the bottom at APS. 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.

I don’t doubt that most parents in this room have children who are going to graduate. Through the eyes of your children where you get lots of the school experiences, you are hearing that they are having a great experience.

But four out every 10 kids who walk through this door are not graduating.

This high school should be No. 1 under every factor. I have other concerns. I look at performance and what we were achieving and what we are achieving here. I have come to conclude with dynamic new principal coming, I want him to have every opportunity to succeed.

He says that he felt new principal could not succeed with the old administration in place. “So, I removed them and put them in different assignments.” He stressed that they did not lose status, pay or stature.

Several student journalists here — which I love to see — and TV camera crews setting up. There are about 30 parents and staff. More talking outside. I did a count and there are 400 seats set up for parents. When a TV camera man pulled one away to put down his bags, he was told that all seats must remain.

I will blog from the event as long as my signal holds, but, in the meantime, here is a statement released this afternoon by the North Atlanta High PTSA:

In advance of the meeting tonight with APS Superintendent Davis and in response to hundreds of questions received from parents, the Executive Board of the North Atlanta PTSA has issued the following statement:

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.

This statement has been prepared in the spirit of the National PTSA Standards, which are included below.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

160 comments Add your comment

NA mom

October 10th, 2012
8:28 am

In addition, there were several embarrassing displays by Mygrant supporters who stood in line simply to ask the same question that had been already answered a dozen times before or stood in line to hurle a personal insult at Mr. Davis.

It was embarrassing on their part, but Mr. Davis stood his ground, was polite and handled this angry mob surprisingly well.

Bill Mackinnon

October 10th, 2012
8:31 am

@Maureen 7:49am Agreed about the deep discontent. I have twins class of ‘09 who have had their struggles in college. I spoke with some of the parents I met while at NAHS and there are apparently accusations of racism extant, leading to a Request for Information currently. Dr. Davis was asked about this and he dissembled in his answer “lots of these requests” and a whole staff to handle them. I think this was ultimately a personnel issue and explosive, hence the every quick exit of the staff. I do not dispute the AYP and other measures cited, and I will still maintain that Dr. Davis could have organized his remarks to encourage the”passions” he referred to to get focused on the vision he was unable to articulate, assuming he had one. BTW, he said he ran a Fortune 1000 company, not a Fortune 500 company. It was an opportunity he missed and handled in a very defensive way, although with an outward calm. I wonder how hard his hard was beating. Got to go to work now.

APS Fam

October 10th, 2012
8:35 am

I would love to be at NAHS right now showing my support to the students. If any one knows what’s going on there today, please fill us in on the events and the atmosphere. Erroll Davis and the APS Board…you did wrong. Period.

NA mom

October 10th, 2012
8:36 am

” Look at the test score statistics for the White students at North Atlanta High School. They perform quite well, even when compared to the best schools of East Cobb.”

Most of the white students are in the IS/IB program.

The black, Asian and hispanic students that are in the IS/IB program at North Atlanta perform “quite well” also.

The problem is that the rest of the students are largely ignored. Resources are poured into IB/IS and everyone else (largely black and Hispanic students) are ignored.

That is really disgusting. Mark Mygrant and his team did fail MOST of the school.

indigo

October 10th, 2012
8:39 am

Are all or mostly all of the dismissed administrators white? Will all, or mostly all of the replacements be black?

Just asking.

NA mom

October 10th, 2012
8:40 am

“Look at the test score statistics for the White students at North Atlanta High School. They perform quite well, even when compared to the best schools of East Cobb. ”

Most of the white students at North Atlanta are in the IS/IB program.

Similarly, the black, Asian, and Hispanic students who are in the IS/IB program perform “quite well.”

Most of the school resources and the energy of the PTA are aimed at providing opportunities for the IS/IB students.

Everyone else gets ignored.

Mr. Mygrant and his staff were charged with the responsiblity of educating ALL of North Atlanta’s students and they failed.

Good riddance to them.

whynot

October 10th, 2012
8:43 am

Why can’t he share personnel matters with the ones who pay his salary – the taxpayers? I don’t understand that comment at all.

Bob

October 10th, 2012
8:48 am

Atlanta Native, this statement seems to show you to be an ignorant native ” It baffles me to see these affluent parents, who have endless resources at their disposal, shaking their fists and protesting at a public school. Bizarre.” So if you are part of the group that pays the bulk of the taxes you are “bizarre” to protest failed policies and failing schools ? It is not the children of these parents that are dragging the school into the crapper, it is the kids of the parents that could care less about the school as long as the school provides meals and babysitting services their spawn. Why should someone pay 15K a year in property tax and let people come in and screw things up ? Bizarre are those that think if you are successful you should sit back and pay the tab for those that do not do what it takes to be successful. WE did build that and we will not sit back and let those that could care less about anything screw it up.

No Dog in the Fight

October 10th, 2012
8:48 am

I’m just spit-ballin here, but could it be possible that some bused-in-kids’ parents complained of rascism?
From the comments I’ve read, it seems no one has ANY idea why this happened.
On the other hand, if NAHS is supposed to be the flagship school, maybe APS really CANNOT afford to let the test scores and grad rates drop further because the overall school system average will suffer……Just sayin.

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
8:48 am

“Are all or mostly all of the dismissed administrators white? Will all, or mostly all of the replacements be black?”

No, they were a mixture of different folks.

Entitlement Society

October 10th, 2012
8:52 am

Questions for all of the North Atlanta supporters unhappy with Davis… he said, “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.” and is now positioning a new leadership team to raise the bar and increase the level of performance at North Atlanta. What kind of example are you setting for your children with all of this whining and complaining? Shouldn’t you model for your children how to embrace change in the pursuit of a better education for all at North Atlanta? Shame on all of you public school proponents bashing this sup who’s trying to ensure that both the have and the have-nots get the same quality education at North Atlanta because the current system under MyGrant obviously wasn’t working. Davis has stated that the changes are to make this underperfoming high school better. Why question what he’s doing at other schools? How does that impact you and your children? Shouldn’t you be thankful that your school is getting attention and action towards improvement?

Big Mama

October 10th, 2012
8:52 am

Did anyone ask about the status of the IB program? Will it continue and be supported by APS? Does anyone sense there is an attempt to dismantle IB?

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
8:54 am

“Look at the test score statistics for the White students at North Atlanta High School. They perform quite well, even when compared to the best schools of East Cobb”

The white students are largely in the IB/IS SLC.

The black, Asian, and Hispanic students who are in the IB/IS SLC and have go on to Ivy league universities and top liberal arts colleges.

The problem is the children who are not in IB/IS are given 2nd class resources and get 2nd class results and apparently nobody in Mygrant’s administration cared enough to change that.

Mygrant was the principal of the entire school and his administration failed most of the school.

AMcATL

October 10th, 2012
9:03 am

I took my child to school today and wanted to cry when she got out of the car! I have never knowingly sent my child into a battle ground. Her team has a volleyball tournament today and she did not want to miss school. It is sickening that APS is a disaster and disgrace to the citizens of Atlanta. I pray over and with my child this morning! One thing is for certain….my younger children will not set foot in an Atlanta Public School until they get their stuff together. Fulton and Cobb County may not be perfect but that is where my little people will be! This is one tax payer that the city of Atlanta has lost!

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
9:06 am

In fact, if we broke down the tests scores per SLC, we probably would see that the black and Hispanic kids in IB/IS outperformed their white counterparts in the same SLC.

I know personally that the black and Hispanic children in NAHS’ last graduating class went to better colleges and universities than their white counterparts and I know that many of these children came from single parent/working class homes whereas their white counterparts came from wealthy 2-parent homes.

So the issue is not one of one race outperforming another. It is an issue of how the resources have been distributed at NAHS.

Namely, most of the children at that school have been largely ignored while most of the time and resources have gone to the IB/IS program.

It is a literal heirarchy, with the IB/IS program literally at the top of the school.

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
9:07 am

“Did anyone ask about the status of the IB program? Will it continue and be supported by APS? Does anyone sense there is an attempt to dismantle IB?”

Yes, this question was asked and Mr. Davis stated that the program will continue and that he wants to “expand’ it.

APS Fam

October 10th, 2012
9:09 am

@buckheadbetty
Amen, sister! Erroll Davis, Nancy Meister, AND, especially, Reuben McDanielle MUST go!

APS Fam

October 10th, 2012
9:16 am

Just to put it out there…
Please, someone, run against N. Meister! You will have a lot of support both monetarily and otherwise! You must be out there somewhere and are desperately needed to replace our current back-door-dealing, corrupt, and out for her own personal gain representative.

Entitlement Society

October 10th, 2012
9:19 am

I’ll second that. Anyone except Nancy Meister. In my dealings with her, I have been extremely disappointed. Very poor representation for we the taxpayers.

KB

October 10th, 2012
9:24 am

According to an AJC article posted last night, “MyGrant said the removal dealt with charges of racism against two staff members he hired last year. He delivered 25 pages of documents to the central office Tuesday that he said would exonerate him and the other administrators.”

These documents are at the heart of the matter. Can the AJC request copies of them?

The Hammer

October 10th, 2012
9:38 am

@Jennifer Dharling:

I’m glad someone finally pointed out how the school has seemed to be failing the more “marginal” students. This can best be seen by looking at the test scores of Hispanic students over the past three years. In fact, the precipitous drop in their mathematics scores *IS* is a sign of a school failing the “general population”. Or, is it the “general population” failing the school? I might be one to contend that the more affluent (and talented) Hispanics have moved out of their apartments, and relocated to Gwinnett County (and, likewise, the Black parents who are capable, have relocated elsewhere, including houses in Cobb, Gwinnett, etc.)

SO, could these continued drops in test scores be the result of a changing demographics of the minority population in the school zone? Has anyone bothered to ask, and try to answer these questions?

dirt lot baby

October 10th, 2012
9:56 am

Maureen wrote: The contention by Davis that student success is not universal at NAHS is true for every high school. Still don’t see how these four administrators are to blame. Nor do I think a new principal, no matter how talented, can change this situation on his own. It is a systematic problem that will take more than just high school reform.
Under performance of high school kids reflects a lot of things, including k-8 education.

Maureen – Please refer to J.Dharling’s comment that the NAHS admins didn’t do squat to equally distribute the resources at the school. This happens at my kid’s HS – best teachers, lion’s share of PTA funding for afterschool clubs, even text books, class materials, etc., go to the chosen academy that the white parents control and steer their kids into (often over the kids objection). Resources are unevenly distributed, as are the kids themselves based upon perceived ability. Everyone knows how the academies stack out intellectually and which ones are the dumping grounds for the abject students and teachers – a deadly combination unless you’re trying to run them into dropping out or at least quarantining them for 4 years. The admin does what it can but~

There was a NY Times editorial that bar none the best thing to raise lower kids up was true integration. And that is NOT what happens in any APS high school as far as I’ve ever heard and read and witnessed. And APS school board members and their puppeteers are complicit in this, and why many of them were diehard Bev.Hall supporters to the absolute bitter end. She enabled their socioe-economic balkanization of schools, and they in turn gave her serious political firepower support which they try to bleed into city council. The small school acadamies accomplish two major APS goals – internal segregation to keep the whites happy, and a whole new raft of overpaid admin positions to slot cronies into.

So why do i send my kid to public v private? For her to understand what the real world is like and for me a $30k/yr savings for out of state tuition.

Laura

October 10th, 2012
9:57 am

@ Big Mama – Yes, I asked specifically about the IB continuing, but it was right when Mr. Mygrant walked in, so you may have missed it… I asked if he saw the IB continuing under his vision of the “New Day” at NAHS, and if parents will be a part in the planning for the New vision. He said that yes, he IB would continue, and then he spoke about a collaborative process with the new principal, etc. I then re asked “so you are saying that you will continue to see the IB being at North Atlanta.” His response: “absolutely.” (sorry about the incorrect grammar – I was nervous)

Solutions

October 10th, 2012
10:02 am

The whole premise on which educational accomplishments are evaluated is wrong. Poverty does not cause stupidity, but stupidity does indeed cause poverty. I suspect the white people in administration and teaching at North Atlanta High will be replaced by black people. Bonuses will be given to the new people for the slightest improvement in student performance. I suspect the students who have the ability and the resources will transfer to private schools ASAP. Of course, any failures or further declines in test scores will be laid at the doorstep of the recently departed people. Have the SAT scores declined for the top 10% of seniors over the last five years (the top scoring 10% on the SAT, not based on class rank)? That to me is a better measure of school performance.

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
10:03 am

“I suspect the white people in administration and teaching at North Atlanta High will be replaced by black people. ”

I have no idea why you would expect those things.

The new principal is white. So what?

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
10:04 am

And no, stupidity does not cause poverty.

We live in a capitalistic society, there will always be a large number of poor people and a minority of wealthy people.

APS Fam

October 10th, 2012
10:33 am

Let’s not lose focus on the real problem here, which is the non-transparency and the ruthless and thoughtless behavior of APS. I’m not saying NAHS doesn’t need improvement or that house cleaning is a bad idea, but how it was done is incorrigible! Number one, I seriously doubt the folks that were made to leave out of the blue on the drop of a dime are the cause of the problem, and MyGrant had retired anyway. As far as I can see, there has been no sufficient explanation of why it was done this way. All of the answers I see just change the subject and focus.

Bill Mackinnon

October 10th, 2012
10:39 am

Correction to my comments at 8:31 am: That should be agreed about the disconnect, not discontent, although both are accurate. If the truth is that AYP and other measures are as described, then changes should be made. NAHS should be the premier school in APS because it has the resources: IS/IB program, a diverse student body, a great group of teachers (mostly, like all the other APS schools, and the most powerful resource involved and engaged parents. Dr. Davis wants it to be the premier school because with these resources, changes will happen more quickly, more bang for the buck. He could have done a much better job of outlining his vision for NAHS and clarifying the poor decision to dump the Administration team. ONe comment about institutional knowledge above was right on the money.

KIM

October 10th, 2012
10:56 am

Enter your comments hereSomething is not right here. Dr. Davis sounds like he is treading water poorly. Good luck, students. You’ve got a power struggle here and it will continue with new principal.What a mess for the kids.

KIM

October 10th, 2012
11:02 am

I do have one question. Did Dr. Davis bother to explain to the public at the meeting how graduation rates are calculated? No. And that is part of the transparency issue: he is using data to make a case and he needs the public to be ignorant of the state’s calculation process. Otherwise, the audience would know NAHS is NOT failing. Not at all. Too bad that the new principal has already set himself up for criticism by saying he wants a clean slate of administrators. Arrogance? Ignorance? Narcissistic? Hmm…wondering,

Carlos

October 10th, 2012
11:17 am

It’s possible that Superintendent Davis is correct and an entirely new leadership is needed at the school; but it’s also possible that, after going deeper into the data with the administrators on the ground, the problems don’t lie at the feet of the existing administrators. That’s why there ought to have been fair process of evaluation in place long before this train wreck occurred.

When a principal and his entire staff don’t even know why they’ve been abruptly dismissed, there’s a problem with process and communication within the district leadership.

A brittle, authoritarian, heirarchical, administrative model got the Atlanta schools where they are today. If we want a good school system where responsible adults want to work, then the Superintendent and his staff cannot be allowed to treat principals and school staffs as if they were children; and principals and their school staffs cannot be allowed to treat teachers as children.

As it is now, an unnecessary mess has been created for the new principal BECAUSE unbridled authority was exercised by, perhaps, one person or only a few people. Maybe the head of HR should be sacrificed for failing to require due process prior to what took place. A brain rather than a rubber stamp was needed here. And maybe rules for proper due process were already in place but ignored.

RedBear

October 10th, 2012
11:25 am

Just checked my 10th grader out of NAHS for the day. If APS will treat their administrators the way they did, what will they do to to unruly students?

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
11:28 am

C Jae of EAV

October 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

The most telling statement from Mr. Davis for me was the following:

“It’s not a sin to be in the middle of the pack. But I don’t want that to be the standard for North Atlanta High School. With the kind of commitment, with the resources that are available in this community, this school should be at the head of the pack.”

The way I read that statement it suggests that Mr. Davis and his supporting staff has differing expectations of student performance based on where they reside, thus he may be less concerned by the level of chronic under performance exhibited by other schools on the south-side of the district. Quite and interesting statemet in my view.

Jennifer Dharling

October 10th, 2012
12:38 pm

“The way I read that statement it suggests that Mr. Davis and his supporting staff has differing expectations of student performance based on where they reside, thus he may be less concerned by the level of chronic under performance exhibited by other schools on the south-side of the district. Quite and interesting statemet in my view.”

You must have missed the part where he said that eventually all schools will be measured by the same standards.

But with NAHS current resources, they should not be failing to meet AYP and be at the middle or close to the bottom of the pack.

This is all true stuff.

C Jae of EAV

October 10th, 2012
12:48 pm

As I read down further and I see that Mr. Davis also offers up the following comment in responce to questions from the crowd:

“This should be our premier school in this city,” (referring to North Atlanta)

I’m even more concerned about the perspective with which Mr. Davis is conducting his job. What does it say about him that believe that NAHS in particular “should be the premier school in APS”. What does that say of Grady, Jackson, Carver or Mays? Are we not to strive to have all of the HS in APS be of superior quality? Are we simply writing off areas of town as not deserving of the same level of concern he’s voicing concerning NAHS?

Let me be clear, I have no beef with improving the standing of NAHS. What I’m questioning is the substance of Mr.Davis’ comments to the extent they suggest he doesn’t have equal level of concern over improving the performance of other HS across APS. Its like because NAHS is not the #1 HS in his eyes all is not right in the world. Very interesting commentary for Mr. Davis to put on the public record.

Sandy Springs Parent

October 10th, 2012
12:57 pm

No I was not at the meeting and not the drunk lady at the mic. I am not one of the Buckhead lady wine drinkers. lol.

If you take out the line jumpers and those not residing in the district, the passing rates are quite high. How can a school be blamed for those who are comming to the school out of district. When one can bet it is Central district that won’t let them clamp down on those of color who are cheating the school zoned lines.

@ Atlanta Native, their are a good contigent of Yankee’s here that were brought down by the major companies from up North, the Midwest or California. We don’t want to live out in the the Bible Thumping fuax suburbs. We want to live in town. We all grew up being able to go to public school. We went to great public schools. Our siblings up north who are our peers Doctor’s, lawyer’s etc., CFO’s send their kids to Public Schools.Even our friends who went to college with send their kids to public schools in Willamsburg, Va, Fairfax, Co. Va,. We believe, in public school education that it should be available for everyone rich and poor, the middle class. That no one should be forced out of the public school. We pay the property tax, we pay $ 7,500 and up a year. When people in the suburbs complain about paying $3,000 a year we laugh. We are willing to volunteer and work in the public school. We expect every parent to volunteer in the public school.

We are not their to pay for everyone else’s children. I only have two children, whom I had in my 30’s when I could afford them. People need to use birth control or abstence and stop having children that they can not afford. The Black Churches need to stop denying the moral behavior of its comunity and preach responsibility. They need to offer parenting classes. They don’t need a big show on Sunday of hair styles, a mother takes care of her children and buys her clothes and a thrift store.

Yesterday 3 children conned $5 each out of my 12 year old on the premise that they needed it to pay their library book fines. That is bullying. Now my daughter doesn’t have her bookfair money. These 3 were 3 Black and Hispanic Free lunchers. What have their parents taught them. Mooch off the white kids that pay for their lunch.

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
12:58 pm

@C Jae, He made that point several times, citing the resources of the community and the commitment to the school by parents. I don’t think he was talking about what APS puts into schools, which must be equitable, but what that community brings.
But I can tell you that several people from other schools at the meeting last night told me they were troubled by those comments as well.
Maureen

C Jae of EAV

October 10th, 2012
1:08 pm

@Jennifer Dharling – The additional aspect of Mr. Davis’ statement you pointed me to is a very empty platitude. Honestly, if I were a parent with a child at Jackson or Mays or South Atlanta, I personally would question Mr. Davis’ commitment to improve the standard of performance at my school.

I understand the level of resources at NAHS place it in an advantagous position, however the core of Mr. Davis’ statements combined with the his actions leading to those statement come together to call his motives and intent into question. This is the essence of my point. I don’t think student performance was the reason he took this action. I believe that’s a smoke screen and his statements as published in this blog suggest as such.

shaking my head

October 10th, 2012
1:44 pm

@Does Anyone Really Care? +1 and kudos on the comments I was there last night and had NAHS not received an exemption for AYP this year and was taking over by the State next year, all hell would have broke loose

it’s tough but eventually, you have to rip off the band-aid and let things heal and start the rebuilding process…he made the right decision and unfortunately, his timing was not ideal…funny how people will endure failing teachers and administrators for years, but stay on a call with Comcast for hours if their cable is out

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
1:58 pm

@shaking, The state has never indicated that it would take over any schools. In fact, last year the AJC reported that APS had schools found to be cheating that now could be eligible for state takeover under No Child because they did not make AYP.
Erroll Davis was not happy with that characterization of the situation and offered a different view of the state’s role at that time:
From the story:

Atlanta Superintendent Erroll Davis said the state legally has the flexibility to intervene in failing schools. But he said he has spoken to state Superintendent John Barge and believes the state’s role will be more supportive.

“I welcome the increased presence. It will be people with experience in these types of situations, and obviously we need help and experience, ” he said. “But neither I nor Superintendent Barge want the image conveyed that he is riding in to take over our schools.”

shaking my head

October 10th, 2012
2:00 pm

@Sandy Springs Parent like it or not taxes subsidize education for all children, so you do pay for all children indirectly…not sure what you are referring to about the affordability of children, but I agree in general the nation should be more concerned with rising birth rates of our youth…and note to you, they are not all black…ever watch Teen Mom?…so to state that “The Black Churches need to stop denying the moral behavior of its comunity and preach responsibility” implies that this is only a “black” problem and that everyone goes to church…i’m sure that you have white friends (which I’ll assume you are based on your references to color) that do not go to church, but if not then news flash, every black person in america is not a bible-toting, church-going, baby-having, stylish-hair wearing drain on society…it’s funny how you want to put the weight on the church…no organization, religious, or other wise, is responsible for the accountability that a person chooses to accept or not….not schools, not churches, not government…stop it with the race baiting and fear mongering…as for the money, i’m sorry to hear that…you should set a meeting with the parents of the students and get the money back

shaking my head

October 10th, 2012
2:06 pm

@maureen whether they decided to take it over or just be more supportive the fact that they have the legal authority to do so would be a cause for concern if my child went there (oldest is 6 but we’re thinking about moving into the district and thus my interest)…the fact that it would not be officially “taken over” is really just word play…i would not enroll my child in a school that has not met standards for 6 years (including this years gracious exemption) and under state “presence”, and I can’t imagine many other parents would either

woodrow

October 10th, 2012
2:24 pm

Here is my assessment. Erroll Davis is responsible for these performance issues and should be fired also. The sooner the better. Nobody wants him. Nobody trusts him. He is a pariah in his current post.

shaking my head

October 10th, 2012
4:50 pm

@woodrow he’s only been in the post for a about a year give or take a few months, so how is he responsible for 5 consecutive years of failure to meet AYP?…

unhappy

October 10th, 2012
7:37 pm

My son did a year at North Atlanta and we could not get him out fast enough. During parent /teacher conferences, the teachers came unprepared with no knowledge of my son or who he was. One teacher lost his grades and admittedly made them up. One teacher’s English was so bad that my husband and I could not understand her on the phone and my son could not understand her in class. I complained about both and my answer was that the kids will get used to him. My son went onto another school where he had to repeat French 1 after a year at North Atlanta. He had no idea of what he learned there and this is a child with a high IQ and learning ability. There is no control of what is going on over there. I applaud APS.
My son told me there are kids selling all kinds of drugs there, kids smoking pot in the locker rooms and kids constantly skipping school with no apparent school acknowledgement of the staff.
I for one am thinking this change will maybe a good thing

crankee-yankee

October 10th, 2012
7:58 pm

Davis: They were transferred under standard protocol. Ran Fortune 1000 company. That is how we do it.

Understanding that is a paraphrase but still points to a certain arrogance on his part. Sounds like a typical business answer that would work in a business setting. However, what business types do not understand is a school is not a business. Schools do not turn out widgets. Turning out people requires a different mindset.

Maureen Downey

October 10th, 2012
8:02 pm

@crankee: I did talk to Davis after the meeting about the immediate confiscation of the administrators’ computers Friday afternoon. He also called that standard protocol to prevent distraught or angry employees from damaging the computers or sensitive data. I would assume that is a standard precaution when folks are fired.
But is it standard to take computers from employees who are merely reassigned?
My understanding is that the administrators got their computers back this week but I still think it is insulting to take away computers from employees who are moving to new jobs. I have never seen that in any company for which I worked. Computers are seized when people are fired but not transferred.
Maureen

crankee-yankee

October 10th, 2012
8:11 pm

Maureen, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I have seen a few administrators “reassigned” and have never heard of confiscated computers. I know in Gwinnett, as a matter of course, computers do not travel with employees when they transfer to another building. Their old computer is left behind and they get a “new” one when they report to the school. But all the admins I know usually take their current machines home & to the new job until they get the new machine as it can take a few days to accomplish the issuance.

Confiscating a machine only tells me they were looking for something, looking to delete something or both.

Former APS student

October 10th, 2012
8:22 pm

@Entitlement Society

Exactley….The students and parents that came to the board meeting and are the ones who are involved in their education. but there are many children that are being left behind at that school. those are the ones who wasnt present at that meeting the ones that Dr. Davis is speaking about. These are the children that are being LEFT BEHIND. There is NO WAY this school whos demographics are simular to Roswell Northsprings Riverwood in Fulton County should be performing like this, as I said in my previous post. Parents should be raising hell about the low test scores instead of raising hell about how and why these administrators was reassigned. Whether you like it or not, these people rode the lack luster reputation of North Atlanta and did NOTHING to improve the education of ALL it students while they was there. They need to be dismissed. The way that it was done is alright me because they did nothing to improve that school.