Parent cites problems at NCHS-East

Published 3:33 pm Saturday, February 6, 2010

JACKSON — Controversy is surrounding Northampton County High School-East after a parent brought forth her concerns to the Northampton County Board of Education during their Thursday night meeting.

Cathy Mason of Conway spoke to the board about the “bullying and harassment” of students and staff at the Creeksville-based school.

Before her comments were made, Board Attorney Rod Malone asked Mason not to address personnel issues during her three minutes at the podium.

“I am speaking on behalf of parents, staff members and tax paying citizens who have a major concern about the atmosphere, treatment and unprofessional behavior of the administrator at Northampton County High School-East,” said Mason.

She continued that many people complain that when they walk into the school it seems like a circus.

“There are people standing in the office laughing and talking and ignoring the visitor,” she said.

Mason added she had heard curse words used in the office when she was visiting, words that she believed a parent or a student should not have to hear.

“We want to know how can you (the school board) all sitting up there hear about the harassment issues and the wrong doings with teaching ethics and not investigate anything reported to you,” she asked. “Board members we voted you in to be fair and just to all concerned, but where is the support for the people being mistreated? Investigate the harassment and unprofessionalism of the staff at the school.”

Malone asked Mason what she didn’t understand about not addressing personnel issues during public comment.

Mason refocused her comments.

“Whenever someone is accused of anything out there the same people are brought forward as witnesses,” she said. “Please board members and superintendent, do some investigating of the situation at this school. Don’t let these negative situations continue to happen as you have done in the past. Please don’t be afraid, stand up for what you know is right.”

In a later interview, Mason told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald her concerns were about the top administrator at NCHS-East, Principal Pamela Chamblee.

She said approximately 15-20 people were in attendance at the meeting worried about the atmosphere at East. A group of five or six people stood with Mason after the meeting.

Mason said her own child has come home crying after being harassed by the principal, and alleged that the harassment by Chamblee is not exclusive to students, but is often directed to staff members as well.

She recalled being outside of a room where Chamblee was meeting with a staff member and alleged hearing Chamblee curse at the person she was meeting with.

“This is facts, not hearsay,” Mason said about her claims.

Mason alleged the hostile atmosphere at East has been going on for years and was happening when former Superintendent Dr. Kathi Gibson was heading the school system.

“I made Mr. Bracy (Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy) aware of it, but nothing is getting done,” she said.

Those who stayed with Mason after the meeting said the atmosphere is affecting the students at East.

“We do have an attorney,” she said.

On Friday, Board of Education Chair Grace Edwards told the News-Herald that the board was dealing with a current personnel issue going on with one person from that particular school and that it was being handled through the proper procedure for that type of matter.

Edwards added the information Mason presented to the board was something they had not heard before.

Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy could not be reached for comment. Due to inclement weather on Friday, school was dismissed at 11:30 a.m.