School board removes barriers

Published 10:08 am Friday, August 6, 2010

WINDSOR – During three days of meetings last week, the members of the Bertie County Board of Education said they were upset about staff members not feeling they could come to the board.

During the discussion of Title I funds, board member Pamela Chamblee said the school district staff had been under an “umbrella” that kept them from feeling free to speak to the board.

“We can’t know unless contact is made with us,” Chamblee said. “People have been under an umbrella where they were afraid to say anything.”

School Board Chair Gloria Lee said that is not how the district should operate.

“People need to come to us,” she said.”They need to know they shouldn’t be afraid for their jobs.”

Lee said she felt the concern went to all levels of the system.

“It bothers me that teachers are scared of principals and principals are scared of those above them at central office,” the board chair said. “If they see something wrong, they feel like they can’t go to someone.”

Board member Emma Johnson said she felt that was exactly the case.

“If something is wrong, people won’t tell what’s going on because they’re afraid for their job,” she said.

“That’s gone,” Chamblee said. “They were afraid for their jobs.”

Chamblee said it was important for administrators to ask questions of each other and not to allow things to happen just because someone brought in a piece of paper.

“If you are the guardian of this pot of money, you don’t let someone walk in with something scribbled on paper and walk out with a check for $10,000,” she said.

Vice Chairman Alton Parker said there were no new policies that needed to be put in place; people simply needed to follow the guidelines already established.

“We want people not to feel scared to (stand up for what is right),” Lee said.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Carol Atkins said the concern for jobs was nothing new to the school district.

“That’s not a feeling with just this particular administration,” Atkins said. “People have kept their mouth shut and gone with things because they didn’t want to face the repercussions.”

“That stops now,” Chamblee said.

Lee added. “They can come to us without fear. This stops now.”