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."
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.)
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:
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.
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