Class president at Marietta High: Bring back our beloved principal

The reassignment of Marietta High School Principal Forrestella Taylor has upset students and parents.

Livi Simone Grant is a full IB diploma candidate and president of the senior class at Marietta High School. She has been awarded a Presidential Scholarship to attend Florida A&M University, where she will study business administration and broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish in the fall.  

I asked Livi to address the reassignment of the Marietta High School principal, a move that upset parents and students and led to a tense school board meeting this week. Speakers charged racism in the transfer of Forrestella Taylor, the first African-American to lead the school, to a newly created central office post.

Teachers rose to attest to Taylor’s effectiveness as a leader. Still, a board motion to reinstate Taylor failed 5-2. Taylor becomes the district administrator for accountability and program support for Marietta City Schools, beginning July 1. Taylor will “provide oversight in our accountability practices,” said superintendent Emily Lembeck in a statement, because of “the increase of district requirements from the Georgia Department of Education.” 

Before her position as Marietta High principal, Taylor was the principal of Marietta Middle School for two years and the ninth grade assistant principal at Marietta High from 2011 to 2013.

 A Change.org petition seeking Taylor’s return has already drawn 1,072 signatures. The petition says the principal decreased suspensions, fights and drug offenses and improved instruction at the high school.

Despite the outcry from students, parents and teachers, neither Taylor nor the school district has explained the rationale for the reassignment. What we don’t know: Was it a promotion for a job well done or a reassignment due to some problem or clash?

Clearly, parents and students believe Taylor was yanked without justification and do not view the reassignment as a reward. Because school districts are limited by privacy laws, the statements from Marietta City Schools, including the following one I requested and received today, don’t give details.

If this reassignment, indeed, was welcomed by Taylor and ought to be celebrated, she is the only one who can confirm that and end the public controversy. So far, Taylor apparently has not done so, so parents and students will continue their efforts to bring her back to the high school.

Marietta City Schools sent me this statement today: (In a followup phone call, the district spokeswoman said no official ever declared Taylor was not “a good fit” for Marietta High.)

Marietta City Schools understands that there are concerns in regards to the appointment of Forrestella Taylor into a new role as the District Administrator for Accountability and Program Support. While some at Marietta High School would like to have Ms. Taylor remain in the role of principal, we believe she has remarkable skills that are beneficial to the high school – in addition to the other 10 schools in the district.

As such, Ms. Taylor will have the districtwide responsibility of implementing and evaluating a variety of systems associated with District measures, in addition to providing ongoing support to K-12 district programs. This includes, but is not limited to, the coordination of MCS’ strategic plan reporting procedures and the management processes associated with the Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) in collaboration with the Assessment Department – something for which Ms. Taylor has proven skill set.

With that background, here is what the senior class president wrote:

By Livi Simone Grant

I have always believed that what is done in the dark will eventually come to the light.

I am still looking for that light — that light which reveals truth. I, along with other students, teachers, parents, administrators and ministers from Marietta are seeking truth to why Forrestella Taylor, the first African-American to serve as the principal for Marietta High School, was reassigned (after less than one ear on the job) to a position at the Central Office.  

From my understanding, this new position is not one she was seeking. However, it is one that she has been assigned after the Board of Education voted 6-1 in an emergency meeting  to remove her from her duties and responsibilities as principal for MHS for the 2016-2017 school year. This meeting was closed to public comment.

It was determined by this same board that Mrs. Taylor is not a “good fit” for Marietta High. While I am sure a board can call an emergency meeting, I am  confused to what constituted an “emergency” and why it was closed to the public and the many of us who support Mrs. Taylor. I believe the board acted with input from some quarters, but the opportunity should have been provided for all to speak, not just some since this board serves the greater community.  

I know there are legitimate reassignments within school systems, but this does not appear to be the case with Mrs. Taylor who has made a real difference at MHS. She is passionate about her work, encouraging to students, and demonstrates a leadership style that is collaborative.  

As a student leader, through student government and other organizations, I have learned so much from her about effective leadership.  By watching Mrs. Taylor in action, students have learned to choose to do what is right, not popular.

I cannot speak for all MHS  students, but I can confidently state from my interaction with my classmates there is deep concern about what is happening to our principal. There is overwhelming support for her from our school and the overall community, as shown by the standing-room-only crowds at board meetings this month. 

The board should reverse its decision and reinstate Mrs. Taylor to her rightful position, a position in which she is committed to the service and betterment of every student at Marietta High School.

The board should do the right thing.  

 

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
An Educator
An Educator

Maureen Downey lets investigate this a little more. If the superintendent is quoted by a newspaper stating its a lateral move than how could it be a promotion?

readcritic
readcritic

@An Educator The problems at MHS have been ignored and covered up for years and the previous principal also had a hand in many of the issues. The grades/scores and other school improvement statistics look good because both administrators have played the numbers game very well. Student discipline looks as if it had improved because they wouldn't allow teachers to report problems without disciplining the teachers for daring to write referrals.The teachers quickly learned to avoid administrative confrontation and retaliation. Most unacceptable classroom behavior issues were handled with a "conferenced with student" approach so that actual statistics wouldn't  be required to be reported to the state and MHS wouldn't be on the dreaded "dangerous school" list. Favoritism is rampant, negative activities are downplayed to avoid publicity, and other areas of improvement are based on creative computation. Cleaning house came a bit late as many good teachers have already left to get out of the quagmire of mediocrity and cronyism. Both principals have been given "lateral" moves to save face for poor choices in administrative assignments. 

BigDawg1984
BigDawg1984

Don't let this article or the student's comment fool you.  The 80/20 rule definitely applies at MHS.  For those that do the heavy lifting, she was had a very negative impact on the school, it's teachers and the surrounding community.  By trying to create a "new Marietta" (her words), she got caught up in Obama's world of trying to "radically transform" Marietta High School in ways that hardly anyone felt needed transforming.  The district dug themselves into this whole, however, years ago by embracing the theory that since we have a high minority population, we need more minority teachers and administrators.  When you tell black and Hispanic kids they need to be taught by people that look like them, how are they supposed to react when a principal who looks like them gets yanked after 1 year.  Very predictable. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

There are warning signs up here. Being moved every two years, and going into her 4th assignment in 6 years is a tell.  While administrators (and teachers!) can be moved around, administrators are NOT typically yanked after 2 years, repeatedly.

roget1998
roget1998

you must not work in Corporate American. The moves were promotions. Maybe you need to read the bio of successful individuals. They don't stay long in positions. How can a principal of a middle school be 'yanked' to lead the high school. 

Another comment
Another comment

Forsetta screwed up on not understanding the cultural diversity of the school. Striping the traditions the what makes High school high school fun for the kids.

I saw the same thing at Campbell when they brought in the minority principal strip out the traditions. They want to run the schools like a reform school or mini prison camp.

Big deal about kids TP ing the school for senior prank. They did not not gratiffi it. ( my high school in upstate NY a VW bug made it up of top of a bldg. in college my Toyota Tercel made it up over a 3' hedge in front of Resident life building ( it took 12-20 drunk college boys to lift it up, I guess I should be be honored they liked me so much they got that many guys together to have such a laugh, they still laugh about it 30 years later)

At Campbell the " Hispanic" principal eliminated international food day, fiesta day. Where everyone brought food from their native land. This was an IB school with 40% Hispanic population. The outrage of the Hispanic and the African community was huge. Then everyone at the entire school was mad. He also handed out grey sweat pants and tops and made student wear for dress code enforcements. Talk about trying to mimic a prison culture.

Then this was followed by the black female principal who had her black female assistant principal along with reduced changing bell, blowing a whistle at the change bell. Then putting kids in Saturday detention for not making it to class in the 5 minutes. You could not even go to your locker,

Top performing schools with high SES, aka white schools are that way, because they have traditions. They allow students to have positive high school memories. They treat students with respect.

Forstella, only looked through her Prism. Not through who actually owns the houses in Marietta. Who pays the taxes. Who decides to live in the city and make it a good school district long term.

roget1998
roget1998

@Another comment Let me read between the lines. "not through who actually owns the houses in Marietta Who pays the taxes. Who decides to live in the city and make it a good district long term."  Are you stating that only those who own houses should have a vote? Are you stating that school leadership should reflect those who pay taxes by owning a home? Are you stating "a white " person should lead?  The district graduation rates were AWFUL and an embarrassment. However, the current Superintendent was allowed to stay and work on improvements. Why not allow Ms. Taylor the same opportunity. Below are the graduation rate stats over the past several years.  


2011-2015 MCS Graduation Rates

2015 – 74.7 percent

2014 – 71.4 percent

2013 – 66.5 percent

2012 – 61.97 percent

2011 - 59.2 percent.  Are we honestly going to tell our kids "don't like the principal because she doesn't let us keep tradition."  I guess you are one for slavery. It was tradition for over 400 years.


Another comment
Another comment

Look at the problem areas that this district encompasses, aka Franklin Road. Or any other name that you want to put on that road. The only reason the graduation rate has gone up is that several class "C" Apartment buildings have been bought by the City of Marietta and torn down.

readcritic
readcritic

@An Educator @Another comment Yes, and that graduation rate is fudged to look better than it is because the administrators have invented ways to push kids through with computer programs that give answers, and pressure on teachers to pass students with retests and extra "help" which requires little or no effort by the students. There is a lot more going on there than meets the eye.

Another comment
Another comment

As an outsider looking in, who reads the MDJ, I have the following observations:. The principal in question failed to consider the diversity and culture of the entire school. She only looked at the school through the prism of her background. She did not understand that traditions such as TP ing the school grounds were harmless pranks that had been done by grandparents, in the 50's, parents in 80's and now their children's. Then she comes in and suspended the students for the annual TP senior prank. This was not spray painting the buildings. My high school

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Another comment I was at a high school yesterday where seniors had just toilet-papered the trees around the school. One of the school administrators was shaking his head over the fact kids are still doing such a stupid prank. He said the school would have to pay overtime to get staff to remove the stuff -- not an easy task as workers have to get and climb ladders to reach the paper. He said it would cost quite a bit as the stuff was on all the trees spread across the grounds. So, I am not sure it is harmless to taxpayers. 

Another comment
Another comment

You make the kids pull it down, it is that simple. Or a couple of rains knock it out.

An Educator
An Educator

@Another comment oh so the students TP with drugs, drinking Alcohol and having sex is harmless. Get to the facts. TP the school with all those additives is dangerous but maybe that the old Marietta way to get more students. 


roget1998
roget1998

@Another comment "She only looked at the school through the prism of her background." Someone else used the word "prism.". That must have been the buzz word at your back door meetings. Look, every human being approaches life based on their viewpoint or "prism."   Are you really trying to say that because the principal didn't allow the kids to TP she should be removed?  That is asinine.  Remove people from position because of their lack of accomplishments, failure to perform a job. Not because she wanted order. Not because she wanted to encourage kids, reduce suspensions and increase moral.  Maybe you should get a new prism.

readcritic
readcritic

@Wascatlady @Another comment What is worse is that the kids clean it up and get out of class to do it. A double reward for them! Then the teachers have to catch them up on what they missed. It is always more work for the teachers.

readcritic
readcritic

@An Educator Yes, these are the very issues that never reach the public. Good PR earning the $$$$.