Some of you may recall a blog post I posted a few months ago after a student from Sumter, SC, Blake Ward, got in touch with me regarding disgusting actions made by his school board. In brief, a school board member said in regard to a parent’s concern: “I have such a problem with questions that spring forth from obvious retardation but to squelch the matter I will address it.”
Yes, you read that exactly right, a school board member referred to a parent’s concern as something that has sprung forth from “obvious retardation.” Following this, Blake and his fellow students, teachers, parents, and concerned community members filled up the district office to voice their concerns.
Seven months later, and the school district is still facing significant issues with administration. And Blake–even though has now graduated from Sumter High School–refuses to let his school district be trapped beneath a disconnected, senseless superintendent. He is asking for national help to put pressure on his school board to remove four people from their positions in their district:
1. Randolph Bynum, Sumter School District Superintendent
- “Bynum has caused chaotic division in my community to the point of no return…[and has] a lack of regard for teachers.”
- He requested to the State BOE to hold back teacher pay step increases for budget reasons after spending $853 at Chic-fil-a
- Bynum is a 2007 “graduate” of the Eli Broad Superintendents Academy, the same graduation year as controversial Chicago Public School’s CEO Jean Claude-Brizard
- With 4 other school board members, spent $10,000 into trip for a “training seminar” in Daytona, FL
- Removed his school’s top qualified teachers and moved them to other districts to start up programs that “could’ve easily been started by someone else.” How did Bynum replace these teachers? He hired brand new teachers and gave them a $600 computer training session.
- He has a “closed-door” policy, he avoids any concerned parents or students getting in contact with him by not posting his e-mail address or a phone number for public to see
2. Sterling Harris, Principal of Sumter High School
- “A few months ago, SHS underwent HSAP (High School Assessment Program), a testing program that all students are required to endure in SC in order to graduate. He ILLEGALLY failed to provide teachers with test training materials and when they had to sign contracts to attest that they were trained properly, he forced them to sign it with intimidation.”
- “It’s a known fact at SHS that if you go against Harris, you will be lashed out for hours in his office, be hit with a letter of reprimand, and likely be transferred (it’s happened to about 5 people already).”
3. Dr. Cassandra Dixon
- “It was recently discovered that she lied to the school board about the ownership of SWEET 16 (Systematic Way to Ensure Effective Teaching), a 16 point teacher evaluation tool. At the beginning of its implementation, it was understood that it was tool that Bynum was independently licensed to use this. Then, upon questioning at the May 2013 school board meeting, she slipped up and accidentally admitted that she owned all copyrights and thus made money off of it. Simply put, a woman hired from the controversial Atlanta school district had quietly developed an audit tool after coming to Sumter, bought the copyrights to it, and, through the Superintendent campaigning for it, licensed its use under the board’s nose. A clear conflict of interest.”
4. Ms. Norman
- Pushed for problematic grading system for k-2 students. Regardless of the dozen of parents who spoke out at board meetings and wrote letters to the editor begging the school district to stop using this scale due to its lack of clarity and confusion, Ms. Norman extended the program’s use to the third grade.