The Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County unanimously approved the transfer of J.E. Turner Elementary School Principal Missy Nolen today. She was only employed as the school’s to administrator for one year.
Nolen will take the helm of the new Envision Virtual School beginning in August – one of seven leadership changes approved by the board at today’s meeting.
However, Nolen isn’t leaving Turner without controversy.
On June 2, more than 100 parents, educators and students met to protest the transfer of 20 teachers from the school, which according to the AEA, had been changed by the system’s administration from voluntary to mandatory before they were approved.
Those teachers had put in voluntary requests for transfers after reporting problems with Nolen at Turner. Educators at her previous school, E.R. Dickson Elementary, also echoed those concerns.
At the meeting, parents and students wearing matching shirts that read, “What you allow to continue will always continue,” seemed pleased with the transfer.
Lynn Huey will take over as the school’s principal this fall. She currently serves as the national project director for MCPSS Talents Unlimited.
Some of the 20 teachers who received transfers are still not sure where they’ll be placed next year, but Superintendent Martha Peek has stated previously that some could be returning to Turner Elementary.
The board agreed to call a special meeting to approve some final personnel issues at noon on July 16.
Executive Manager of Human Resources Bryan Hack said that day has also been set aside for mandatory transfer hearings, but individual meeting times have not been officially scheduled.
After the board adjourned, some parents of Turner students discussed issues with the denial of several continuation-transfer denials sent home July 1.
Jamie Skelton’s nine-year old son had been enrolled in the Turner district since for going on three years. Since his first year, the family has moved to the Indian Springs Elementary School district, but they’ve maintained their son’s enrollment at Turner through continuation transfers.
“When we moved, I got him on a continuation for him to be able to finish out school there,” Skelton said. “The (transfer) requests are usually approved, unless there is a reason for (them) to be revoked.”
Skelton said she spoke with office workers at Turner about her son’s continuation transfer in May, but was told Nolen would be handling them this year.
The two had a meeting a week before the teachers at Turner received the notice they would be transferred, and Skelton said their encounter was very unpleasant.
“I’ve never been treated so disrespectfully in my life,” she said. “We talked for less than 10 minutes and she told me to sign my son up for school like normal and I’d find out if his transfer was accepted hallway through the summer.”
On July 1, Skelton and others received identical letters explaining why their children would not be allowed to continue school at Turner.
The letter listed 10 reasons the transfer request was denied, one of which was the “principal requested transfer be revoked — Student has unacceptable attendance, behavior or academic performance or parent is uncooperative with the school’s staff.”
Skelton and Charlotte Balentine, whose children were both denied transfers for the first time this year, say those don’t describe their children or the relationship with their teachers.
“In my case, none of those apply, and I know with many of the other parents, none of those apply either, “Balentine said. “We’re not the only ones. There are a lot of them.”
Skelton said she and Balentine have both been involved in the protests and school board appearances of Turner parents. At least two other parents who’ve been vocal about the issues at Turner also said their continuation transfer requests were denied.
Skelton said she’s already filed an appeal with student support services, which is headed by Executive Director Terrence Mixon. Attempts to reach Mixon at his office have so far been unsuccessful.
“We heard he’s a very honest and fair man. We hope he can do something,” she said. “Transfers are never terminated. This is ripping (my son) out of everything he’s ever known.”
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