On June 6th, the Maury Chapter held a public action and press conference just before a Maury School Board Meeting. Members recently decided to launch a new campaign against discrimination and retaliation against teachers and parents in the school system. The chapter is also tackling the issues of bullying and harsh student disciplinary polices.
Nearly fifty SOCM members and community supporters rallied on the steps of the H.O. Porter Alternative School. Pastor Joseph Green of Mt. Nebo Church opened the event by leading a prayer for equal treatment and justice for all children, parents, and teachers. Maury Chapter Board Rep. Douglas DePina spoke first by summarizing the crisis in the Maury School system and the need to act with urgency. Minority students are disproportionately disciplined, teachers feel they work in a climate of fear and intimidation, and many parents feel school administrators are not addressing the needs of their children.
New SOCM member Katrina Donaldson spoke about her personal experience in dealing with administrators. “My son was attacked on the school bus twice and called the ‘N word’. When I tried to talk to the school administration they were hostile and dismissive. This is not about me, this is about a child. And there are others out there going through the same thing”. An investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Tennessee Department of Justice found that Katrina and her son were mistreated and mandated that Maury Schools adopt new polices regarding bullying and other issues.
Recently dismissed teacher Patricia Hawkins recounted the retaliation she suffered, despite a long career and history of positive job evaluations. After suggesting that administrators make more of an effort to hire and retain minority teachers and staff, she came under increasingly pressure. She also spoke out about extreme disciplinary practices in her school and had a reputation for defending her colleges when administrators violated school policies.
After the action and press conference, members filed into the Maury School Board meeting and spoke directly to its members.
Check out these two other videos from the action, featuring interviews with new SOCM members Patricia Hawkins and Katrina Donaldson:
To get involved with the Maury County SOCM Chapter, contact Mike Cannon (Middle TN SOCM Organizer) at firstname.lastname@example.org) and join us for our monthly meetings:
Every Second Monday
Christian Faith Church
409 East 9th Street