Teachers and faculty from McClellan Magnet High School are planning a protest outside a special Little Rock School Board meeting this evening.
On the agenda tonight is a personnel discussion that’s thought to concern the imminent transfer of McClellan interim principal Clausey Myton to Hamilton Learning Academy. On Tuesday, district superintendent Morris Holmes informed Myton of the transfer, and Myton announced it to the teachers at a staff meeting. Myton said he was told he was being moved because teachers, parents and board members are unhappy with his performance.
Multiple McClellan faculty members contacted the Times, but they’re not willing to give their names for fear of losing their jobs. Teachers are angry about not being consulted in the decision, particularly because, in the past decade, McClellan has had high principal turnover. At least one principal and two interims have stayed less than two years. Some faculty believe Myton is being transferred because he recommended the school’s long-time secretary, Deborah Brown, for termination after she signed his signature on a letter that went out to all McClellan seniors. The letter solicited their participation in a credit recovery program that, according to McClellan faculty, Myton didn’t think made good use of fiscal resources. At least two witnesses heard him tell Brown that he wasn’t going to sign or send it.
According to McClellan staff, the district decided not to terminate Brown. Some faculty think this is because she is friendly with several members of the school board. We’ve got a call in to the LRSD to verify Brown’s employment status, but according to a McClellan staff member, Brown was kept on paid administrative leave from May until December and suspended for 10 days without pay in December. She has not returned to work at McClellan.
More than one McClellan faculty member told the Times that Myton is a rarity because he does things “by the book,” meaning he follows both state code and that of the LRSD handbook. Sure enough, when reached via phone, he refused comment and referred us to Pamela Smith, Communications Officer at LRSD.
UPDATE: About two dozen teachers showed up with handmade signs in support of Myton, despite having already been informed that public remarks are only taken on the fourth Thursday of the month. “We thought we’d come anyway, let them know that we’re paying attention and we want Mr. Myton to stay where he is…he was told not to tell faculty [about the transfer], but because of the kind of principal he is, he told them he was going to tell his staff himself…they were going to carry this whole thing out with a closed vote, without letting the faculty in on it, without giving us a chance for public comment,” said Sandra Nichols, who has taught at McClellan for twelve years.
During the meeting, Holmes reminded the public that he was recommending the transfer to the board, and that he could have legally made the transfer without the board’s input. He chose to bring the matter before the board in the interest of transparency. Jody Carreiro made a motion to discuss the matter in a closed session, but legal counsel said that a closed session was inappropriate to discuss a transfer under the same terms of employment. Under the Freedom of Information Act, a closed session is only permissible to discuss firings, hiring, demotions and resignations.
There was a brief discussion about the impact a mid-year transfer might have on student achievement and if a leadership change would affect a federal social improvement grant (SIG) McClellan is currently receiving. Carreiro asked if Holmes had discussed the matter with the SIG coordinator, and Holmes said he had not and would not discuss staff changes with anyone outside of the board. “So I guess I just have to assume that you feel it would be a better fit to effectuate our SIG grant with this particular line-up,” said Carreiro.
Greg Adams made the motion to approve the transfer, and Diane Curry seconded the motion. The motion failed, three to two. Adams and Curry voted yes, Norma Jean Johnson, Tommy Branch and Michael Nellums voted no. Leslie Fisken and Carreiro refrained from voting.
ALSO: The School Board also began a discussion of whether to place at least one armed police officer in every school, rather than just select campuses. More on that here from Channel 4.