Leader Blues

Friday, May 22, 2009

EDITORIAL >> Another principal gets booted out

You can speak truth to power in the Pulaski County Special School District, but not with impunity.

Like Mike Nellums before her, Kim Forrest has been banished as principal of Jacksonville Middle School effective the end of school.

Forrest tried to argue at a recent school board meeting for keeping the single gender middle schools open for one more year to make a more orderly transition to a coeducational middle school. The meeting reportedly got heated and Jacksonville’s Bill Vasquez, acting as board chairman in Tim Clark’s absence, gaveled Forrest down. Combining the schools has been one of Vasquez’s passions.

In an interview published in Wednesday’s Leader, Forrest continued her campaign to have one more year of single gender education and said the board made a bad decision based on incorrect facts. She said there were insufficient classrooms available and that teachers would be roving from classroom to classroom, hauling their personal belongings and teaching tools around on carts.

Vasquez is said to have been furious with that article in the Leader and to have told interim Superintendent Rob McGill to move her.

McGill confirmed the move Friday but refused to characterize it as retribution against Forrest on Vasquez’s behalf. He said it was routine reassignment of personnel. Vasquez did not return phone calls from The Leader this week.

The motion to do away with single-gender education, which had begun proving itself in terms of improved benchmark test scores and improved discipline, was made by Vasquez earlier this year, and carried 4-3.

McGill said he had reassigned Forrest to Northwood Middle School for next school year and reassigned Northwood principal

Veronica Perkins to Jacksonville Middle School.

Nellums has been shuffled off to Robinson Middle School for next year, about as far from Jacksonville as you can get without leaving the county.

Forrest, like Nellums before her, has been a passionate advocate for her Jacksonville Middle School students and we suspect Jacksonville area residents will remember that when Vasquez stands for reelection to the school board.