As reported in the last issue of the Fort Wayne Ink Spot (FWIS), strife over the leadership at Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy (TMLA) led to a closed door meeting to discuss the future of Principal Harold Stevens. Accusations of racism and negligence were made against the first-year principal.
Thurgood Marshall’s management firm, American Quality Schools (AQS) has presented their recommendations to the school board. The follow-up statement, from AQS President Dr. Michael J. Bakalis, contains said recommendations.
The AQS position is as follows:
1. We reject charges of racism against Mr. Stevens. We have documentation showing support from faculty at the school from both white and African-American teachers.
2. We made the case that, in fact, there were racist statements made against Mr. Stevens.
3. Our position is that race has no bearing on the competence of any leadership position. Fort Wayne's population is approximately 16% African-American, and the Ft. Wayne public schools are led by a qualified African-American woman. That is entirely proper, and no one should argue that the school system should be led by a white person because the majority of the city is not African-American. In a similar scenario, anyone who would argue that the city should not, at some time, be led by an African-American individual, because the city does not have a majority African-American population would also be wrong.
The AQS recommendation for the board's consideration is that we do five specific things:
1. We retain Mr. Stevens as principal of the school, based on the strong record he has made in terms of bringing order, fair discipline, and very strong academic growth for students in one short year.
2. We recruit and hire a qualified African-American individual to be second in command at the school who can address any special aspects of relating to the African-American students, parents, and community.
3. We establish a parent advisory committee, which would be majority African-American, because of the make-up of the school population. This committee would meet on a scheduled basis with both Mr. Stevens and with the new individual I referenced in point 2 above. The purpose here would be to identify and resolve any concerns or problems before they reached the point they had recently reached.
4. We recommended that the school attempt to recruit students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds so that students learn to learn and respect all aspects of our multi-racial and multi- ethnic nation.
5. We recommended that all personnel at TMLA, both African-American and Caucasian teachers, staff, as well as Mr. Stevens and the new hire referenced above, receive some specialized training in "Cultural Intelligence."
In plain English this means having people be educated about the differences and similarities, and unique aspects of various parts of our multi- racial-ethnic nation. We have asked both the board, as well as the Ft. Wayne Urban League to give us names of qualified persons who could lead this educational effort. These are our recommendations. And we will await any additional ideas that may come from the board.