Hey school board: We deserve respect

‘It is an insult to our community to treat us with such disdain and disrespect. Why can’t we have a meeting at Melrose Elementary or some other school site in our community that is accessible to parents and community members alike,’ asked Dr. Goliath Davis.

BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D., Contributor

PINELLAS COUNTY — The Pinellas School District is currently involved in two lawsuits regarding the achievement gap. One is a federal suit (Bradley), and the other is a state suit (Crowley). The two organizations representing the plaintiffs (black children) are the NAACP and COQEBS (Concerned Organizations for the Quality Education of Black Students).

They worked with the district to develop the Bridging the Gap Plan to address the achievement gap by implementing strategies and programs designed to enhance the performance of Black scholars in ways that will close the gap between Black and white student performance. Needless to say, the data has not met expectations.

While the district boasts about increased Black graduation rates utilizing concordance scores, the truth, as I have indicated in previous writings, is that Black students are graduating with inferior diplomas, reading scores are horrific, and discipline and arrest rate disparities continue to alarm.

Superintendent Mike Grego’s tenure has been a mixed bag. He deserves credit for his ability to work collaboratively with the NAACP and COQEBS to develop the Bridging the Gap Plan, his creation of the Transformation Zone, and his accessibility. He recently announced his retirement, triggering a search for his replacement.

Ironically, the process outlined for the search is a slap in the face to the African-American community, the NAACP, COQEBS, and the elected African-American school board member.

Three meetings were held to allow community members and parents to voice their desires regarding Grego’s replacement’s qualities. Ironically, despite requests and recommendations, no meetings were held in the African-American community, despite the lawsuits and the proliferation of troubled schools in south St. Petersburg.

The elected African-American school board member has not been afforded an opportunity for her constituents to be treated equally to the north and mid-Pinellas County communities.

I would venture to say that Dr. Grego, who has demonstrated his political astuteness during his tenure, did not make the decision. The school board hires and fires superintendents, so this is undoubtedly their issue to resolve.

The placement of computers at school sites for our community is not the same as allowing us an opportunity for face-to-face interaction. Given the status of the achievement gap and disciplinary disparities, I can fully understand why some board members may not want to face the music.

However, it is an insult to our community to treat us with such disdain and disrespect. Why can’t we have a meeting at Melrose Elementary or some other school site in our community that is accessible to parents and community members alike?

The political landscape and environment are changing with the constant drumbeat of “Make America Great Again.” So much so that those in power don’t even pretend to care about what people of color think or want.

If the residents and parents in North County (Countryside High), mid-county (Pinellas Park High), and South County (St. Petersburg High) can have a meeting, why can’t Midtown? After all, we will present the new superintendent with a host of challenges.

Goliath J. Davis, III. Ph.D.

Shouldn’t we have an opportunity to have equal input in the selection process? Hey, board members, it’s time to schedule a fourth meeting.

Goliath Davis is a former chief of police and deputy mayor for the City of St. Petersburg who actively advocates for education in Pinellas County.

2 Replies to “Hey school board: We deserve respect”

  1. S. Rose Smith-Hayes says:

    I agree with Dr. Davis and have been asking the same questions. St. Pete High School is considered South County is the answer I keep receiving. South of Central Avenue continues to get No Respect. This is not new. It has been happening for years. The Pinellas County School board has disrespected citizens South of Central Avenue for many many years. School Board meetings are held each week. At least once a month, come South of Central Avenue and hold a meeting please, is that asking too much?? One meeting was held in Gulfport when Commissioner Rene Flowers was on the Board. Now again, we are being ignored. This is wrong on so many levels.
    We have between 9, 000 to 11, 000 plus children of African descent in the ‘District’, we demand to be heard regarding the new Superintendent. Stop ignoring and disrespecting us.

  2. Marilyn Bell says:

    I agree with Dr. G. Davis. All communities are to be served equally. Why not have a meeting in our communities. A great deal of money is generated through Title One for this district. Those funds should be used to supply the needs of the students in those schools. There is absolutely no way that we can help the school district without our input and ideas. Do they not want to hear what we have to say or our suggestion on what might help to move our children in a positive manner. No group of people that are a part of the school system should be disrespected. it indicates that you really don’t care the people that you are suppose to serve. I hope that the new superintend will have a concern for the students of south county and provide the necessary staff and programs to move these students in a positive direction. Our district is to large for a one size fits all approach. Let’s work together to solve some of these issues, after all many brains makes the load easier.

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