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Students walk out, upset over North Atlanta High changes | Schools

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Students walk out, upset over North Atlanta High changes
Students walk out, upset over North Atlanta High changes

ATLANTA -- Upset over changes at North Atlanta High School, students walked out of class Wednesday morning.

We're not sure how many kids left class but they walked over and sat midfield at the football stadium.

We'll have more on the walkout on 11Alive news at 6 and 7p.m.

Parents and students packed the North Atlanta High School gym Tuesday night, anxious to know why nearly half a dozen top administrators were suddenly removed without warning.

Last Friday, Principal Mark MyGrant and four otheradministrators were told they'd been removed from the school. MyGrant, one month from retirement, was dismissed; the administrators were reassigned to other schools in the district.

RELATED | Dismissed North Atlanta High principal speaks out

For the first time since the reassignment, Superintendent Erroll Davis addressed parents and students Tuesday night, many of whom claim they were left in the dark about the changes.

Davis said the decision was based on school performance: North Atlanta High School needs to improve quickly, he said, and the current leadership team was not performing.

"This school needs to be a lot more than it is now," Davis said. "With the amount of parent support and resources, this should be one of the premiere schools in our system."

Instead, Davis said, the school failed to meet AYP five years in a row, from 2007 to 2011. The graduation rate lingers at 62 percent.

"The standard for this school, for this community, should be a lot higher," Davis told reporters after Tuesday's meeting. "And we're bringing in people that I think will help us meet that standard."

Davis spoke for 15 minutes before opening the session for questions. For the most part, the crowd was unforgiving and grilled Davis for more than an hour, angry at what they call a lack of communication.

As parents and students left the meeting, some said they were still upset with Davis' method, but understood the personnel shakeup.

Michelle Nelson, who has a ninth grade daughter at North Atlanta, said she was pleasantly surprised.

"Honestly, his explanation made more sense to me than what I was anticipating coming in tonight," she said.

Junior Oro Omene called the experience bittersweet; she had formed a bond with her former administrators, she said, but realized the move was best for the school.

"What [Davis] said this evening really reassured me that everything is gonna be OK," she said.

But other students were not convinced. As she left the gym, senior Brianna Green muttered, "He basically just lied to us."

"If he came and talked to us personally without all the cameras and extra people here, it would be more personable and we would feel more compassion from him," she said. "Because right now, it feels very estranged."

Davis stressed that no employees were escorted from the building and the four administrators were reassigned to positions of equal title and pay level.

Since Friday, parents and students have voiced their outrage through blogs and school protests.

Former principal Mark MyGrant called the dismissals corrupt and influenced by "political greed."

"I would have gladly put the keys under the mat and rode off into the sunset and I was prepared to do that until I heard that other administrators were taken down by this," he told reporters Tuesday morning.

The five-year principal officially retired from his job last spring, but was asked to serve as interim while the school hired a replacement. He made a brief, surprise appearance during Tuesday's meeting, to which the crowd responded with a booming standing ovation.

Davis said MyGrant's dismissal involved a personnel issue, but would not elaborate.

The new principal, Dr. Gene Taylor, will take over later this month. Davis said he wanted to make the change before his arrival.

"I would not want to put the principal in the position of having to face a group of angry parents," Davis said.

"I would rather have people angry at me for the decisions I've made instead of angry at the new principal."


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