I am getting copied on emails between parents at North Atlanta High School and APS, and it doesn’t sound like detente has been reached over the purge of the school’s leadership team a week ago.
I am also getting calls now on the resignation of an English/journalism teacher whose hiring created tensions between principal Mark MyGrant and APS, although it remains unclear why.
The resignation of Amy Durham, coupled with the reassignment of Laura Brazil, academy leader for North Atlanta High’s Global Broadcasting and Journalism, has alarmed many parents with children in the program. One parent said her child is a finalist for a $200,000 scholarship but needs recommendations that he now can’t get.
You can read Durham’s resignation letter here. (She actually does not resign in the letter, but retracts her pledge of employment since she was never approved by the board.)
Durham and school board member Nancy Meister were middle school PTA co-presidents together and remain friends. When I asked Meister last week about why APS was dragging its feet approving Durham’s contract, she declined comment, saying it was a personnel matter.
MyGrant said he has been frustrated and upset by the board’s inaction on Durham and vague allegations against her that have never been formally outlined or ever substantiated.
He told me last week: “In August, I was contacted by Deputy Superintendent Karen Waldon on three separate occasions reporting anonymous allegations alleging that I was planning to fire a employee leaving for maternity leave, and was hiring two new teachers that were ‘racist.’ I did all I could do to investigate these claims with the very limited information I received, but one of the teachers never got processed and the one that signed a contract and is currently working has never been approved by the board. Her name was taken off the gains report in August and didn’t return in September or October. I tried for weeks to get answers from the very top on down, but was completely stonewalled. “
Many parents believe Durham was the casualty of a school board dispute. I can’t speak to what concerns APS may have about Durham’s hiring, but I can say that many parents spoke highly of her teaching to me this week.
A second point of contention has been the counselors that APS school chief Erroll Davis promised to the the North Atlanta High audience Tuesday.
But, in an email copied to me, a parent wrote:
Frankly, in light of the precipitous removal of the respected administrators, I considered Mr. Davis’ offer of outside grief counselors to be both a recognition of the injustice the students felt (which is traumatic), and an appropriate attempt at reconciliation. I am sorry that many students were told their were no grief counselors and were unable to access the services.
North Atlanta interim principal Sidney Baker responded:
Yes, there were four additional counselors on site in the media center. I am sorry for the confusion. Also, the NAHS counselor team was also available for any student as well.
Someone on the blog suggested that North Atlanta High was probably returning to normal. I don’t think that is the case, yet.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog