March 7, 2017 - Last week, three parents, including public school activist Jenny McCord who has founded the social media group ‘Voices for Schools in the Savannah area,’ met with their local school board representative, Larry Lower. Ms. McCord is the mom of a young son, and a member of the Chatham County PTO Council’s Legislative Committee.
In that meeting, Lower appeared to be unaware that the State of Georgia had issued its very important annual report back on January 5 that shows that Savannah-Chatham Public Schools now have 12 ‘Chronically Failing’ schools, up from six last year. (See the SBJ’s related story.) The State's failing schools are a hot topic in Georgia by Governor Nathan Deal, as they should be.
McCord followed up by emailing Lower a link to the State’s report - as he requested - and then sent a pleasant email to all the school board members with a link to the State Dept. of Education report. Her complete email to the Board members said, “I was made aware today that Board members were recently told you have six schools on the chronically failing list, when in fact there are twelve,” and ended her short email with, “If we want to improve our schools we need to be playing from the same sheet of music. Thank you for your dedication to our schools.”
Member Connie Hall sent her a pleasant reply, saying she was aware of the new report. Hall sits on the Board's Accountability Subcommittee and undoubtedly follows such reports closely. No discussion of the Failing Schools report is listed on the subcommittee's only meeting this year on Jan. 24, however. McCord wrote her back, stating, “Mr.Lower insisted numerous times there were only 6 schools on the failing list, as had been reported to him and discussed in your meetings. He refused to believe us until I pulled up the list on the Ga DOE website and showed it to him, at which point he asked me to email it to him.”
The email with the link to the State's January offical list sent to Dr. Thomas Lockamy, Asst. Supt. Ann Levett, and others in the administration by a board member, and that set off a nasty email chain.
Member Lower, a well-informed and hard-working member of the body, did not forget. He was never informed that SCCPSS now has 12 schools that are failing.
What is deeply disappointing was the response on Friday night by Asst. Supt. Ann Levett, who responded to the Board members in this manner, “Like most things mysterious, this person fails to mention details … the who, when or why. Thus, I will not assume she is writing about Academic Affairs since I know we did not do so. The information she references was released in January and sent directly to Dr. Lockamy. We have discussed it on several occasions. Perhaps this person can share details that will allow her to prove her allegations since she is so concerne about information the Board of Education members receive.
Meanwhile, I will treat this communique as I do all others that are erroneous, accusatory, and ambiguous. I will not grant it dignity by commenting further about it as the allegation obviously does not apply to me or Academic Affairs."
Beyond the issue of her condescending, paranoid tone, Ms. Levett appears to ignore the obvious - there has not been public discussion of this critical topic when she is Asst. Supt. for Academic Affairs, and when her accomplishments are on the line since has put her name forward as a candidate for Superintendent of our public schools to replace Dr. Lockamy.
We remain hopeful that a full slate of national, outside candidates, will be under consideration by the Search Committee of the SCCPSS School Board.
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