The Bolivar Commercial
Trustees Maurice Lucas, Richard Boggs, George Evans and Todd Fuller all voted not to renew Washington’s contract for the 2010-2011 school year.
Board President Harvey Jackson was the only member of the board that voted not to uphold the recommendation of Superintendent Jackie Thigpen.
“This is one of the worst verdicts in the world,” said Griffin. “I am very disappointed.”
Griffin said he expects to receive the verdict in writing within the next 10 days.
“They did not give us a reason (Tuesday),” he said. “They just told us what the vote was.”
During a special call board meeting Tuesday, Griffin gave the board members his closing remarks.
“There are times as lawyers that you get a case that really tries a lawyer’s soul,” said Griffin. “There are cases that make it difficult to continue your practice in this business. This is one of those cases.
“The contest of nonrenewals for employees’ contracts is nothing new to this board,” said Griffin.
“This case is one that tries me because I don’t think the evidence is there to nonrenew this principal,” he said. “Mr. Washington is a product of this community. He’s been a principal at D.M. Smith for three years. “D.M. Smith is peculiar in that it has always had problems with academics,” said Griffin. “Not saying that there has been any improvements in education at D.M. Smith.
Griffin said that once Washington signed the improvement plan, he and Thigpen were to meet in January to revisit the plan.
“It may be grounds for next year but it is not grounds for nonrenewal for this year,” he said. “I read over the superintendent’s testimony very carefully and she admitted that there was a lot of turnover at D.M. Smith in math that affected the school’s achievement.
“In fact, I have documentation that I would like to present to you that proves D.M. Smith had excellent math scores,” he said.
Griffin addressed other matters to the board and expressed his reasons as to why none of the citations present justified nonrenewal of his client’s contract.
“You got to allow the improvement plan to run its course,” said Griffin. “The superintendent has relied on pure hearsay to norenew Mr. Washington’s contract.”
“Our discipline rates are down,” said Washington. “Those things make a difference but it all takes time. It’s not going to happen over night.”
Cleveland Inches Closer To Being Excel By 5 Community
“We have to conduct the townhall meeting and then the next step will be the interviews conducted with our childcare agencies and Head Starts,” said Clerk.
“It is our mission to give every child a chance to live up to his or her potential,” said Clark. “This not only makes a positive difference in children’s lives, it makes a positive difference in the future of communities. Our goal is for children in Excel by 5 communities to be healthier and better prepared for kindergarten and beyond.
Wallace said even if individuals in the community do not have small children ages zero to five, they should still take a vested interest in those children’s education and development. Every child’s future reflects the world.
“I have visited some of these communities that have received their Excel by 5 certification and those communities have a different look,” she said. “I am very proud that Cleveland is near its certification completion.”
Smith commented on how to continue the process of being actively involved with the progress children make.
Smith said, “It seems that there’s not a strategic plan in place. When the children get older we let up.
“You don’t have to have a lot of new money,” he said. “There are projects in place that calls for the same kind of things we’re talking about now. There needs to be some awareness to what the needs are.”
Smith also addressed the question on racism dividing the community.
“I’ve seen it from two perspectives,” he said. “Until the powers that be sit at the table and address the issue, we won’t get anywhere.
“It’s hard to attract businesses and new industry with this dual system in place,” said Smith. “We don’t want to force anything on anyone but it comes a time when we have to stop looking at the brick and mortar.
“One other thing is there’s very little activity where ducks get a chance to mingle with each other,” he said. “It’s time to change. The question is how can we bring about that change without running people off.”
Some of the strengths were that the Cleveland community has programs like Excel by 5, a visible school superintendent, qualified childcare providers, a park commission program, Delta State University and much more.
Another strength noted was that all parents regardless of race, gender or age love their children.
For more information about Excel by 5 or how to become involved contact Clerk at 662-719-0625 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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