LUMBERTON — The local chapter of the NAACP is demanding that the principal of Southside-Ashpole Elementary School be removed from her position, alleging that Dacia Bullard has mistreated students and parents.
Gloriesrenea Stackhouse, president of the chapter, on Tuesday told the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education that 12 parents have filed written complaints with the NAACP accusing Bullard of “discrimination, retaliation, unfair treatment, denial and refusal of parental involvement, and the unprofessional conduct of a school administrator.” These complaints were also filed with school officials in November, she said.
“The community has come together to seek a resolution to these issues, which have become a great concern for many,” she said. “Parents and students are tired of being mistreated, discriminated against and dealt with in such an inhuman way.”
Stackhouse did not cite any specific instances to back up her allegations, but told the board that parents have made many calls to school board member Brenda Fairley-Ferebee — who represents the district in Rowland where Southside-Ashpole is located — and to Johnny Hunt, the school district’s superintendent.
One Southside-Ashpole student, Malik McCallum, briefly addressed the board, telling members that he doesn’t feel everyone at the school is treated the same by the principal.
“The parents, students and community of Southside-Ashpole students are concerned about the constitutional rights violations, discrimination, and code of ethics violation of parents, staff and students of Southside-Ashpole Elementary School,” Demisa McCallum, Malik’s mother, said after the meeting. “Our students, parents and community deserve a principal who is fair and does not abuse her authority. Our students deserve a principal who does not discriminate against them or their parents.”
In a statement that she was going to present to the board, McCallum said that the principal’s “blatant disregard for the law” has caused many of the most highly qualified teachers to leave the school, as well as parents removing their children from the school. She also said Bullard has banned parents from the school if they challenged her decisions.
“It is time for this to stop,” McCallum said.
School administrators, including Hunt and Assistant Superintendent Stephen Gaskins, said the allegations are being investigated, but declined to to make any specific comments because the concerns raised are a personnel issue.
Ferebee told The Robesonian that she has met six times with the parents and other concerned community members.
“There are some concerns and they are being addressed,” she said. “I want to commend the parents for standing up for their children. I support the parents.”
Stackhouse said that the NAACP will settle for nothing short of Bullard being removed from her position.
“We want her out,” Stackhouse said. “If necessary, we are ready to take this case all the way to the national level of our organization.”
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Jamie Burney, president of the Robeson Association of Educators, urged board members to lobby against any severe cuts in the federal budget, especially in the area of education.
Burney noted that the cuts in education, that could be as much as $5 billion nationally, would mean fewer services for 9 million public school students and job losses for 80,000 Americans.
“Unless Congress acts now to stop these budget cuts, education funding will fall off of a cliff in North Carolina,” he said. “Our best estimate is that the budget cuts would result in a reduction of more than $100 million in federal funding for North Carolina public schools and programs serving children.”
Hunt also expressed concern.
“With all of the federal programs we have, that could mean a loss of $3 million to $4 million,”Hunt said. “That would be in addition to the $30 million in state cuts we have had over the past four years.”
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Gaskins said that seniors at Lumberton High School on Monday will receive the Apple Notebooks that they are being provided through a federal grant. The “roll out” will be held at the high school from 4 to 6 p.m.