Addressing the systemic failures in our schools

Maria Scruggs

Dear Editor,

The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is poised to support the Pinellas County School Board’s efforts to not only address the systemic failures in our five schools within south County but throughout the county.

In Dr. Michael Grego’s May 16 letter to the Tampa Bay Time’s editor, he characterized the NAACP’s involvement and call for his resignation/termination as “division.”  This I find disturbing and counter-productive.

As public officials, the NAACP is simply holding Dr. Grego and the Pinellas County School Board members accountable. The African-American community has trusted that the district would do the right thing by black children for over 30 years.  The trust factor has been lost and like the reorganized branch of the St. Petersburg branch, Grego and school board members must accept that regaining that trust is a process.

The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP has not come back with the expectation that just because we bare the name of the oldest and boldest civil rights organization, that the community will simply accept what we say. We will only regain the trust of the community after the collective community witnesses the sustained work and accomplishments toward addressing the violations of social justice within our community.

As the president of the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP, I am personally committed to lead the organization in a fashion that ensures we utilize our collective experiences to analyze data, sift out inconsistencies, be responsive to complaints of discrimination and to identify strategies that lead to long term systemic socioeconomic changes.

Just like the NAACP doesn’t expect the community to simply take our word that we will do the right thing, the NAACP  will not simply take the  word of any public official as the  gospel and simply bow our heads in prayer in hopes that we will be delivered.

If the spirit of collaboration and cooperation is to exist between the Pinellas County School Board officials, it can only exist when all parties involved within the collaboration demonstrate the highest levels of consistency, transparency, integrity and mutual respect that can be supported by data and actions.

It is my personal prayer that the meetings this week with Pinellas County School Board member Rene Flowers and Superintendent Grego is the beginning of a collaboration grounded in those highest levels of consistency, transparency, integrity and mutual respect previously referenced.

Maria L. Scruggs, President of St. Petersburg Branch NAACP

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