Parents divided after Durham school board lets longtime principal go. Meeting tonight.

A longtime Durham principal received’t have his contract renewed, however some dad and mom and former college students say the choice is overdue.

David Hawks, principal of Durham School of the Arts, mentioned in a letter to the school’s PTSA that he was knowledgeable of the choice throughout a May 21 assembly with Durham Public Schools Superintendent Pascal Mubenga.

In the letter, Hawks mentioned the DPS Board of Education selected to not provide him a contract regardless of Mubenga recommending it. Hawks, principal for 14 years, will full his final day on June 30.

Parent Karen Blesdoe was shocked by the information and mentioned Hawks has been a wonderful principal.

“I would like the school board to listen to Dr. Mubenga,” Bledsoe told ABC11, The News & Observer’s media associate. “They need to put the DSA students first.”

While some DSA households expressed disappointment, others say Hawks was answerable for sustaining dangerous circumstances on the school for Black and brown college students and college students with disabilities.

In 2019, the Rev. Fatimah Salleh made a Facebook post that documented her experiences following her 16-year-old son throughout a day of in-school suspension — since changed by the restorative follow heart — at DSA. The post went viral and was extensively reported by information retailers.

But for nearly a 12 months after, Salleh mentioned she continued to listen to from Black and brown households whose tales echoed her personal. Students of colour have been suspended for infractions, some as minor as laughing too loudly at a joke, that their white counterparts didn’t expertise, she mentioned.

Although suspensions and referrals to the restorative follow heart have decreased in recent years, Black college students and people with disabilities have nonetheless been disciplined at disproportionately larger charges. Salleh ended up pulling two of her sons out of DSA due to these points.

Salleh acknowledged there are households who need Hawks to remain and are involved in regards to the school’s requirements altering below new management.

“On the flip side of that, is the harrowing stories of Black and brown and even EC children at the hands of Mr. Hawks, and the culture and climate he’s created at that school,” Salleh mentioned. “And when will those harms be enough to say that that success that they’ve gotten or they have is not worth it? The cost was too high.”

Melody Moore, the mom of a 2014 graduate, mentioned she burst into tears when she heard that Hawks’ contract was not going to be renewed.

Her baby, Kaz, had main mind surgical procedure as a junior in excessive school after being recognized with epilepsy. Both allege that Hawks was not accommodating of Kaz’s individualized training plan and was dismissive in subsequent conferences relating to reentry into school, suggesting Kaz, an honors scholar on the time, as an alternative go to a therapeutic school.

Moore claimed Hawks had a want “to get students with disabilities out of the school.”

“My impression was if you advocate for your child, or if the student advocates for themselves, then you’re on his bad list,” Moore mentioned.

Decision surprising, principal says

In an e-mail response to The N&O, Hawks mentioned he didn’t anticipate the school board’s choice.

Hawks additionally mentioned DSA dealt with disciplinary issues in keeping with the DPS Code of Conduct for college kids, no matter race, ethnicity, gender id or socioeconomic standing.

He known as the school’s alleged mistreatment of Black advert brown college students a “falsehood.”

“In any school, consistent conduct expectations must be in place along with a quality in-house character education program that creates that learning focused environment,” he mentioned.

“And to be transparent we are not there yet but we were working on it,” he mentioned.

In his e-mail assertion, Hawks additionally mentioned he’s been blessed to work in Durham Public Schools.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as principal of DSA for the past 14 years,” he mentioned.

School board assembly Thursday evening

Students, dad and mom and neighborhood members could have a chance to talk on Hawks’ contract on the DPS Board of Education work session on the Minnie M. Forte-Brown Staff Development Center on Thursday from 5-8:30 p.m.

Rolanda Taylor Bullock is a former Hillside High School trainer and co-founder of we’re, a nonprofit that gives anti-racism training to households and educators.

Everyone needs their youngsters to attend colleges that affirm their identities, she mentioned.

“We want leaders who lead with an anti-racism lens and perspective, and those who don’t and who mistreat children and family for whatever reason — they don’t need to lead,” Taylor Bullock mentioned. “And I don’t think that’s an unfair ask.”

School board Chair Bettina Umstead mentioned the board can’t touch upon a person personnel matter, however famous that the board, the superintendent and the DSA neighborhood will collaborate to seek out “an exceptional leader” for the school.

The N&O was not capable of attain Mubenga for remark.

The Durham Report

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