Black Leaders Speak Out Against Superintendent - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/22/04 - Tyler

Black Leaders Speak Out Against Superintendent

East Texas residents are concerned. Members of the black community tonight got together to raise their voices against a local school district's plans, which appear to them to be racially motivated. Tyler ISD has decided to re-assign John Tyler High School principal Dr. Aubrey Todd to another job. TISD had asked for Todd's resignation earlier this year, saying the district is moving in another direction. Tonight, at least 100 people, mostly from north Tyler, held a town hall meeting at College Hill Missionary Baptist Church. They said they disapprove of the decision made by Superintendent Dr. David Simmons. Those include city council members Derrick Choice and Joyce Armstrong Scurry and county commissioner JoAnn Hampton.

"I would think that everybody in that room tonight thinks that it's a racial issue," Hampton said. "When you have a superintendent that has had several meetings with different leaders in the minority community, and he's just totally ignoring us, and he has ignored our school board trustees, that you would consider that a racial issue."

A parent of a John Tyler student, John Johnson, said, "I think this is a personal vendetta that the superintendent intends to invoke upon Dr. Todd. He's not willing to reason or communicate with anybody else about it."

The media was asked to leave during a majority of the meeting. Those in the meeting say they discussed strategies and goals for moving forward. Black community leaders urged people to rally together to speak out against Simmons' decision.

In a statement tonight, TISD spokesman Cody Cunningham said he cannot address the particular issue, because it is a personnel issue. However, he said it doesn't just involve Dr. David Simmons. Cunningham said it was a district-wide decision, made with careful and deliberate involvement from key administrative staff and board members.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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