School Board responds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2006

GASTON – Northampton County Schools doesn’t intend to sit back and let others make decisions about one of their high schools.

The school board in that county and the superintendent made clear their intentions to get Northampton County High School – West off a list of schools Wake County Superior Court Judge Harold E. Manning Jr. is threatening to not allow to open their doors in August.

Manning, who has been responsible for the administration of the verdict in the Leandro v North Carolina Board of Education case, sent a letter recently to the state board and Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson saying in part that he would not allow schools who had not reached a level of 55 percent of their students at grade level to open in the fall of 2006 without major changes.

Northampton-West was on the list of 44 schools pointed to by Judge Manning in his letter.

That fact didn’t sit well with either the members of the Northampton Board of Education nor Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathi Gibson.

&uot;To the parents in this community: we are going to work hard to make sure this never happens again,&uot; board member Charles Tyner said to a packed room at Gaston Middle School where the Board held their monthly meeting.

Tyner charged Dr. Gibson with making tough decisions about the future of West, saying she should only allow those who are producing results to return to the school next fall.

&uot;If they are not producing, madam superintendent, this board stands ready for your recommendation,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t care if they are my kinfolk.&uot;

Tyner said Northampton County certainly could achieve at West, citing various other counties in the northeast as examples of how well schools can achieve.

&uot;Parents I apologize for our children not being successful in schools and they are not being,&uot; he added. &uot;We have to work together to improve test scores. Northampton County kids are our children.&uot;

Board member Roland Whitted said he echoed many of Tyner’s thoughts.

&uot;There is no excuse for it,&uot; Whitted said.

Board chair Catherine Moody said she wanted to make sure those parents in attendance left with positive thoughts.

&uot;We have work to do,&uot; she said. &uot;West didn’t get in this shape overnight and we aren’t going to get out of it overnight.&uot;

Moody said with a new superintendent onboard (Gibson is in her first year) and the addition of Charles Chestnut as Principal at West (he began in January), the school is headed in the right direction.

Dr. Gibson started her remarks by saying she was a fighter who wanted to play on winning teams.

&uot;We are watching our teachers and test scores week by week,&uot; she said. &uot;This didn’t happen in one year and it may take some time to correct.

&uot;We solicit the support of the community as we head in the right direction,&uot; she added.