DALLAS -- What was supposed to be just another community meeting hosted by District 9 School Board Trustee Bernadette Nutall instead turned into a two-hour event blasting Dallas Independent School District administrators.
The anger was fueled by rumors in the community that James Madison High School Principal Marian Willard may not be returning to the school as a result of a growth plan instituted by Superintendent Mike Miles.
The growth plan requires principals to improve, or risk losing their job. While the district maintains it is still in the review stages, rumors are rampant that some principals have already been told they will not be returning to their respective schools next year.
The district will not comment on personnel matters, but even so Dallas City Councilwoman Carolyn Davis demanded that a handful of DISD administrators in attendance answer why Madison High is losing its principal.
Others, like David Lee of Alliance AFT, an organization that works on behalf of educators, said teachers and educators are not afraid of accountability, but that it should be fair.
“To give someone a growth plan and give them weeks or months to improve is shameful,” Lee said.
Lee said he was speaking up for teachers and principals who cannot speak because of fear and intimidation. Lee also said many DISD schools simply don’t have the resources they need in the classroom to foster student achievement.
“It’s easy to scapegoat.” he said. “Easy to blame teachers and educators.”
Others claimed racism and said the DISD administration's lack of understanding of the South Dallas community was behind efforts to remove principals.
“We cannot allow our black principals to be railroaded,” said Juanita Wallace of the Dallas branch of the NAACP.
Several past and present students spoke out on behalf of Willard, saying she had helped them not only graduate from high school, but was helping them go on to college.
“I don’t agree with how students in South Dallas are frowned upon,” said Tierra Barber, who worried that her recommendation letters won’t mean anything if Madison’s principal was no longer on staff.
Parents and some of the principal’s colleagues called on the community to show up in droves at next week’s school board meeting, including Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
Any non-renewals of principals must go before the board. Principals can also appeal any decision through the districts grievance process, which can include a hearing before a committee.