TISD Hires New John Tyler Principal

"John Tyler will be one of the best schools in East Texas in a very short period of time," Michael McFarland, the new principal, said.

Amid controversy, 34-year-old McFarland will replace outgoing John Tyler High School principal, Dr. Aubrey Todd.

McFarland has been the principal of Foster Middle School in Longview for the past two years and has professional and personal ties to John Tyler. His hiring comes on the heels of TISD's decision to reassign Todd, although Todd's new position has not yet been determined.

Tonight, the school board voted unanimously in favor of the Superintendent Dr. David Simmons' decision to hire McFarland.

But black community leaders say they still have a lot more discussion ahead of them and the controversy over Todd's reassignment is not over.

"That's not over because we cannot say for sure, was this done to placate us?," JoAnn Hampton, Precinct 4 Smith County Commissioner, said. "Was it done just to say, no, it's not true? We've still got a long ways to go with TISD."

Black community members felt the decision to reassign Dr. Todd was racially motivated. Most recently, many black students' parents boycotted the decision, keeping their kids out of school for three days. But McFarland hopes it doesn't get to that point again.

Tonight, he said he's prepared to handle the needs of John Tyler and wants open lines of communication with everyone involved with the school.

"I need to spend time talking with students and find out what are their issues," McFarland said. "I need to spend time talking to teachers and find out, what are the issues as you perceive them? And talking with the community as well to find out what the issues are."

McFarland is completing his doctorate degree in Education at Baylor University. In 2002, he was named "Best Principal in East Texas" by the Longview News Journal. And back in 1998 to 2000, McFarland was the assistant principal of John Tyler. McFarland's daughter will be a freshman at John Tyler this fall.

Julie Tam, reporting.