Petition Causing Controversy in Greene County

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

August 22, 2005

Controversy continues to surround the administration of a Greene County high school. This comes just days before the start of the school year.

It all comes down to what some parents are calling a bad atmosphere at William Monroe High School. Now a petition is circulating full force in the hopes that the school board will soon take action.

Tiffiney Sims-Fielding showed off over 100 signatures that have been collected since June by the group, 'Greene County Parents Must Speak'.

GCMPS formed out of growing concerns about William Monroe High School and its principal, Dr. Lorraine Crawford, over the past year.

"It's just been a real negative atmosphere and we don't feel that the school board and the school superintendent has done their part," said parent, Tiffiney Sims-Fielding.

In the petition, complaints include that parents and kids have been shoved and grabbed by school employees, that parents are discouraged from visiting their children, and that parents are also being threatened with non-existing laws.

However certain William Monroe employees strongly disagree with the petition.

On Monday, over a dozen faculty members held an impromptu meeting to speak up on behalf of the school and its administration.

"My experience is that they're treated well, they're educated well, and it's a real caring environment here," said chairperson of the guidance department at Monroe High, Margery Farner.

"We have increased I think 15 to 18% in almost every category [of the SOLs] this past year, [and it] speaks of how well our school has been run the last 2 years," said math chairperson, Linda North.

However Jean Sims, an employee of William Monroe High for years, agrees with Sims-Fielding, her daughter, and says that because she has been speaking up, she was reassigned to another position. She has since decided not to return to the school.

"All I've heard is a lot of parents are fed up with it and they don't like the way they're treated when they enter our school and I've witnessed a lot of what has been going on," said Sims.

The issues had prompted Sims-Fielding to take her daughter out of William Monroe High. Still, she hopes the growing petition will grab the attention of the school board.

"I still am a native of Greene County and I feel that the school system needs to change for the better," she said.

In a statement issued today by Greene County School Superintendent Ray Dingledine, he said that they did investigate one of the complaints about what they're calling an "interaction" between Principal Crawford and a parent, and did not find Crawford to be at fault. Dingledine added that himself along with the school board will continue to support Crawford.

GCPMS hopes the petition will prompt more parents to come forward and eventually bring about some changes in William Monroe High.

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