Why is West Clay Elementary Principal Sandra Murray being fired?
The heated question was raised by several concerned citizens and parents Thursday night who demand an answer as to why the Clay County School Board is allegedly not renewing Murray's principal contract for the upcoming school year.
During their first community meeting, about 80 concerned citizens, parents of students attending West Clay Elementary School and Murray herself met in befuddlement Thursday night, trying to get some type of clarification on the matter, but with only one Clay County School Board member showing up after notices about the meeting were posted, not many questions were met with satisfying answers. That board member, J.C. Lyons said at this time details cannot be released to the public as the topic on the table is a personnel issue.
For the 2009-2010 school year, the Clay County School District achieved a performance level of Successful under the Mississippi Department of Education's accountability model. For the 2010-2011 school year, the school district received an even higher label of High Performance. Both years Murray served as principal for the school district, and citizens say with test scores up why would the School Board let her go?
West Clay Elementary staff member Wyronia Webb said she supports Murray all the way but as a staff member, she hasn't been informed of the reasoning for the alleged firing.
“I and other staff members don't know ourselves, and we work there,” Webb said. “The superintendent is not here to tell us why, and with our naked eye we can't see why. She does a wonderful job. I can't think of anyone else who can do a better job. I give her two thumbs up, and I think they're making a bad decision. They're not thinking about the kids. If you're a High Performing school - the record speaks for itself.”
Former Clay County School Board member Robert Mims congratulated the success of the school district under Murray's leadership and said letting her go would be a terrible mistake.
“(The school district's high achievements) doesn't just speak to the teachers, the principal and the students, but it says something about you as parents. For this to come back to you in this manner, it's somewhat a slap in the face,” Mims said. “I think she's doing a wonderful job. I've visited her school; clean, quiet, learning process is taking place.”
Other attendants voiced their opinions about the issue.
“I know the whole thing is about accountability, and I think the only thing said about her is she's making the teachers accountable. I have two kids in the school, and they've done (well),” one man said. “I cannot understand if you have a higher rating as a principal, why would you want to remove the person who's in charge. Nobody is perfect. If you remove a person because they're telling teachers to do their job - that's what she's put there for.”
The community group hopes to address the Clay County School Board in their meeting this week.
Clay County School Superintendent Mae Brewers would not verify if Murray's contract is not being renewed due to the fact that the issue is still in litigation but did say a public hearing will be held April 12 concerning a matter related to Murray.
Murray declined comment on the issue until her hearing rolls around.
Johnny Rasberry encouraged the community group to stand together before the School Board and let board members know they oppose the firing of Murray.
“They shouldn't be able to just fire people any time they get ready without consulting us first,” Rasberry said. “They can't tell us that she's not doing her job because the school is performing. If the school wasn't performing they'd be able to get away with it.”