Dr. Zullinger’s job is ‘safe’

Published 8:37 am Tuesday, March 2, 2010

WINDSOR – It turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Despite internet speculation that the removal of Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chip Zullinger was imminent, nothing of the sort occurred Monday night.

During the regular meeting of the Bertie County Board of Education, citizens showed up in force to support the superintendent as well as to show support for the Bertie County Hive and the movement of the Bertie Early College High School to Washington County.

Two of the gathered throng spoke about the improvement of the Bertie County Schools and specifically the leadership of Dr. Zullinger.

Retha Smith was one of those who spoke. She said taught in Bertie County for 34 years and that she still returned to the district to volunteer about four days each week.

“I’m here to commend the board, the superintendent and especially the students for their outstanding success under the leadership of Dr. Zullinger,” Smith said.

While the crowd made their support of Dr. Zullinger evident through several rounds of applause during the meeting, members of the school board made it clear there was never any plan to dismiss the superintendent.

After other board members addressed “rumors” in the county, Vice Chairwoman Gloria Lee said she wanted to address the issue head on.

“There have been a lot of rumors, and I’m just going to say it, that three board members were going to dismiss the superintendent,” Lee said. “We have not had any such discussions.”

Lee then turned to each of the four other board members and asked if any of them had discussed firing the superintendent. Each said they had had no such discussion.

“You are at the right place if you want to get the right information,” Lee said.

Board member Alton H. Parker said he supported the superintendent even though they didn’t always agree.

“I appreciate all of you coming today,” Parker said.

When a member of the audience shouted out, “We support Chip,” Parker answered, “We do too.

“I was one of the staunchest supporters in bringing him here,” Parker said. “That doesn’t mean he and I don’t have disagreements, but he respects my opinion and I respect his. We always can leave shaking hands.”

Parker went on to say there had been improvements in the school district and some slight bumps on the road didn’t mean the board was ready to change superintendents.

“If you have ever been through a superintendent search, you don’t want to do it again,” Parker added.

Board member Rickey Freeman said he was upset about the rumors and innuendo and that he didn’t deal with negativity.

“I’ve been here going on seven or eight years and there have always been rumors,” Freeman said. “This weekend I started getting phone calls from people talking about a rumor that had been started.

“I support this man,” Freeman said, pointing to Dr. Zullinger. “What I don’t like is people putting things on Facebook and spreading rumors instead of the truth. If we can spread all this around, let’s spread the good things that are happening.”

Board member Pamela Chamblee also said she supported the superintendent and referred to the information that was spread in the community as lies.

“Pamela Chamblee does not desire to see anyone ousted, anyone fired or schools closed down,” Chamblee said.