About 200 North Atlanta High students walked out in protest Wednesday afternoon of the reassignment last Friday of the school’s interim principal, assistant principal and three academy leaders by Atlanta Public School superintendent Erroll Davis.
Davis addressed students and parents Tuesday night in a rowdy meeting at the school, telling them he made the moves because the school was underperforming academically.
The talk may have done as much to embolden students as it did to appease them. Some who took part in the walk out only missed lunch. Other cut classes. They gathered and sat on the football field in a show of solidarity mostly out of view of TV camera crews and reporters, who were told to stay off the school grounds.
One of the student organizers, Cameron Halter, walked out of Spanish class to join the protest. “I’m not worried about APS, and what they’ll do to me. I think it’s more important that they show us some respect. The way they handled this shows me they don’t respect us.”
Halter said Erroll Davis’s address did little but raise more questions. “He said we had a graduation rate of 60 percent and that was one of the reason the state might come in,” said Halter. “That’s not true. Our graduation rate is 80 percent.”
Student Palmer Brown left in the middle of math class. He said teachers didn’t try to stop the students but advised them their names would be given to administrators. Brown said he didn’t know if he would be disciplined. “I had a couple of students tell me, look, do you know what you’re doing? Yes I know what I’m doing.”
Brown’s mother, Cynthia Brown, said she supported her son “going against authority, which is something he’s been taught not to do.” She said the superintendent’s address undercut his credibility. “He characterized the school as being in danger of being taken over by the state. That’s completely wrong.”
She said Davis seemed determined to make things look worse than they are. “He talked about North Atlanta High being seventh from the bottom in school performance. Well, there’s only 11 high school in the Atlanta Public Schools system. Look at it another way and they’re 4th from the top. That doesn’t sound as bad, does it?”