Parents, community express opinions to Durham school board members over long-time principal let go

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — The beginning of the Durham Public School Board of Education meeting Thursday evening was both emotional and tense.

“[My son is] re-engaged in school because of these teachers and Mr. Hawks standards,” said Jenny Surface.

“There’s a deep undercurrent of racism at that school. The success of Mr. Hawks does not have to come at the expense of brown and black bodies,” Rev. Dr. Fatima Selleh said passionately during public comment.

Surface is Durham School of the Arts parents. Selleh is a former DSA parent. Both have different opinions regarding Principal David Hawks.

Thursday was the first chance for parents, teachers, and community members to express how they felt to school board members after Durham School of the Arts PTSA posted this week that Hawks’ contract wasn’t renewed.

“We as a community standby and support and are thankful for your decision,” Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock said to board members.

Hawks has been at the school for more than a decade as principal.

“Don’t blame David Hawks. You are pointing your fingers at the wrong person,” Roseanna Morgan, whose child goes to DSA, said.

DSA is ranked one of the best high schools according to U.S. News and World Report. The report ranks them 30th among high schools in North Carolina.

According to DSA PTSA’s post, Hawks’ last day is at the end of the month.

“He’s moving on. The PTSA is here to talk about moving forward from this point,” Laura Kagan, representative of the DSA PTSA board, stated.

So far, the school board hasn’t given any insight into why they did not renew Hawks’ contract.

During Thursday night’s meeting, Jim Key was named the interim principal of Durham School of Arts, said a DPS spokesperson. This is effective starting July 1.

According to a release from DPS, Keys has more than 30 years of experience in public education working as a teacher, coach, principal and area superintendent for high schools. He spent his entire career in DPS after graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill where he earned both his B.A. and M.S.A. degrees. He was honored as the Teacher of the Year for two different schools and the North Carolina High School “Mat News” Wrestling Coach of the Year in 1994.

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