A small but vocal group of Campbell High School parents and students met Friday to discuss and other changes that have taken place since a new administration took the reigns in August. The meeting was organized by a parent and was not sponsored by the Cobb County School District. No teachers or administrators were present.
Of the group of seven parents and three students, most said they thought communication from administrators to students and parents was inadequate. One parent who didn’t identify herself for fear her son would be impacted because she spoke out, said last year she encouraged her son to take his problems or concerns to any administrator.
“I’m not saying that our ninth grade year was a perfect year, but any situation that we had I felt very safe and very comfortable,” she said. “And I knew that I could always say to my son, ‘If something happened you could go to anybody.’ I don’t feel comfortable with that this year.”
Campbell’s former principal, Denise Magee, then the principal of Campbell Middle School, was reassigned and became principal of the high school on July 1, 2011.
Pam Kelly, has two children in Campbell’s International Baccalaureate program and is a member of the school council.
“I think one of my concerns is that there’s so little communication back to the parents,” she said. “Yes, we do get this letter reiterating the rules, but all through the year I feel like this administration has not communicated well. Or maybe I was spoiled by Dr. Rivera who Facebooked and Tweeted and called parent meetings and begged people to come up to the school.”
Kelly went on to say that the school council has not met all year even though it’s required to meet four times a year by the Cobb County School District.
“I talked to Ms. Magee at the beginning of the year and I introduced myself, I made a point,” she said. “I said, ‘I’m on school council. I look forward to working with you.’ And she said, ‘I can’t even think about that right now.’”
According to the Cobb County School District website, all Cobb County schools are required to have a school council except charter schools, Oakwood Digital Academy, Central Alternative School and H.A.V.E.N. Academy. The council is comprised of the school’s principal, two certificated teachers and four parents or guardians, two of whom are business people. School councils were implemented with the provisions of the A+ Education Reform Act of 2000.
The group also discussed what they coined a “general attitude of disrespect” at Campbell. The woman who wouldn’t identify herself told the students present that said she was alarmed at the difference from one year to the next.
“I think there’s so much disrespect going on in that school from the administration, but from the teachers as well,” she said. “The teachers are speaking so negatively about the administration and speaking to students about it. It just blows my mind. My son said as well, ‘How are we supposed to respect our administrators? You teach us to respect people in authority, respect adults. But when the other adults aren’t even respecting each other.’ I think that’s a trickle down to y’all. I just see so much getting blown out of proportion.”
Andrew Snell, a Campbell senior, said he noticed the difference as well.
“I think there was a mutual respect,” he said. “They respected us as young adults—or close to young adults. They respected us as individuals and spoke to us and tried to communicate with us. There was mutual respect so if they told us to do something we did it out of respect. Not just because they were in authority over us or because these are the rules. It was respect toward them as individuals.”
Snell said he’d recently received 10 days out of school suspension for comments he made on his Twitter account about enforcement of the school’s tardy policy. Magee told Snell and his parents that other students felt threatened by his Tweets. Snell and his parents say it was clear he was being sarcastic.
“Of course something has to be done, but where is the teachable moment here?” said Anthony Snell, Andrew’s father. “That didn’t happen. I’m disappointed in him in the language he chose to express even if he did disagree. I told him that. And he had to write an apology to her, but to take the draconian action that it’s 10 days get out of my face type of thing. Versus saying to a child who is a good student, but not to take a moment to truly make it a learning moment for him in his life when he has made an out of character—made a boneheaded mistake. I think that you have wasted the time to earn his respect.”
Not all the parents present felt Campbell’s new administration was at fault. One man whose stepdaughter will attend Campbell next year thought they still deserved a chance.
“Why not give the administration a full chance instead of saying it’s all the administration, which is what the majority of what I’m hearing,” he said. “It’s the administration’s fault. It’s the administration’s fault. They don’t have the camaraderie. Well of course they’re not going to have the camaraderie because they’ve made such a big chance. Why not give them a full chance. Give them a full year to find out what mistakes have been made this year that they can go about changing.”
Ultimately the parents decided a public meeting with Magee was necessary. As an elected representative of the school council, Kelly said she would propose this to the principal Monday.
“I think that is more than just a tardy thing,” said Anthony Snell. “There are a lot of issues. We’ll just leave it at that. We as a concerned group of parents this is what we have heard. This is what we have talked about. What do you see as the issue? What can we actively do with you to solve it so Campbell can be all that it can be for all of us?”