Hinds County Supt. responds to petition to remove her

March 17, 2016 in Education, News

By Shanderia K. Posey

Editor

Martin

Martin

An online petition seeking the removal of Hinds County School District Superintendent Dr. Delesicia Martin was posted on Change.org Wednesday.

The petition was created by Parents 4 A Better HCSD, a group of individuals with children in the district, which according to its Facebook page, has 41 members. To read the petition in its entirety search for “Remove Dr. Martin as Superintendent of Hinds County School District” on Change.org.

Donna Wilson of Byram is the administrator of the Parents 4 A Better HCSD page.

Wilson was among a group of parents who met with Martin Tuesday evening to discuss concerns of more than 100 teachers and administrators leaving the district this year.

“I have never been an activist. I consider myself an active parent. When issues affect my child then I request answers,” Wilson said. “I and other parents who attended the meeting felt change needed to happen at the superintendent level, so I made the decision to create this change.org petition. Our school district is now ranked 101 in the state. We need a superintendent who not only listens to the parents, but cares for our children’s education. Not just about state test scores,” Wilson continued.

The petition specifically cited five areas of concern: the number of teachers and administrators leaving the district, students being tested without proper instruction, the removal of students from Algebra classes who were not performing well, Martin’s alleged lack of empathy for parents’ concerns, and the educational needs of children with special needs.

“We need a superintendent who believes in our children and believes our children are as smart and can achieve the same as any other school district in this great state. We need a superintendent who will effectively deal with school violence and language towards teachers and other students; not an administrator who only suspends the children. Not an administrator who refuses to send offenders to the restart school due to how it reflects negatively on the appearance of HCSD. If a child is violent or breaks school rules, these children still need an education. What does sending them home resolve?”

By early Wednesday evening more than 80 people had signed the petition online. Several posted comments.

“I am very dissatisfied with high-school quality of academics vigor. There are teachers being assigned to teach classes and core curriculum that have no background in or credentials for. My daughter has experienced three of these situations and she feels jilted,” posted Catina Robinson of Byram.

“I am a teacher at Raymond Elementary School in Hinds County. I am leaving because there is too much testing and not enough time to teach. The students are paying the price,” posted Amy McKay of Raymond.

“Nothing has changed. She has done nothing but managed to run off good teachers. The people who need to be run off is the board. Trying to talk to one of them – good luck. At the end of the day we need to send all of them looking for new jobs,” posted Marcus Walker of Terry.

In response to the petition, Martin said a lot of the issues concerning the district have resulted because of miscommunication. For example, after the March 4 school board meeting, media outlets reported that about 100 parents were in attendance to address concerns of a “mass exodus of teachers” leaving the district. Martin said by her office’s count, there were about 40 parents, while others who attended the meeting were administrators or were there for special presentations.

The HCSD school board ended the March 3 meeting early and did not allow parents to ask questions because they had not done the proper procedure to be added to the agenda.

Martin said before the meeting, she had heard directly from one parent.

Typically, the district gives contracts to teachers at the end of March, but this year recommendations were made at the February board meeting and contracts were given at the beginning of March. Martin said the change was made to get an early count of who was returning and who was not.

“We got those contracts back and a number of people were leaving our school district. We do understand that we have teachers each year that move away for various reasons,” she said.

Over the past five years more than 100 teachers have left the district each year. During that time the number of teachers leaving has decreased yearly. A total of 108 teachers and administrators are leaving this year.

“To say there is mass exodus is unfair,” Martin said.

She acknowledged the one exception this year is that at Byram Middle School 27 individuals are leaving and 11 left last year and at Gary Road Intermediate 25 are leaving and 25 left last year.

Dr. LaQuanta Nelson is the former principal of Byram Middle School and was replaced earlier this year. Martin said it is customary that teachers leave a school when there is a principal change.

“We had several parents (at Tuesday’s meeting) who were concerned that the Byram Middle School principal is no longer going to be there,” Martin said. Nelson attended the meeting but did not address the parents, according to Martin. Nelson has been working at the HCSD Central Office for about a month helping with curriculum. She has turned in her resignation effective June 30, to leave the district entirely.

“I’m here to make sure students are successful. We have done more in the last two-and-a-half years than in the last 16 years that I’ve been here,” Martin said. Fine arts programs have been added and more courses through Hinds Community College are being offered to high school juniors and seniors.

“I think the problem is that I’ve got to get out there and communicate with these teachers,” she said.

Martin met with teachers Tuesday at Byram Middle School who are returning, and Thursday she will meet with the non-retuning teachers. She’s seeking feedback from both groups on happenings at BMS.

Thursday evening she’s also planning a second parent group meeting with a few individuals at Raymond Elementary.

The controversy with the district has surfaced just as HCSD is preparing for its annual job fair that will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Byram Middle School, 2009 Byram Bulldog Blvd. Those who want to attend should email a reservation to shharris@hinds.k12.ms.us. Participants should arrive by noon and bring a resume and names of three professional references.

For questions regarding the job fair, contact Sharon Harris at (601) 857-5222 ext. 1073.

Shanderia K. Posey can be reached at sposey@mississippilink.com.