Worth Co. High School students march to keep their principal

WALB M-F 11-11:30 p.m. Recurring - VOD - clipped version

WORTH CO., GA (WALB) - Worth County students marched on Monday to save their principal’s job.

For these students, there was no other way to put it, as they chanted “Keep Calhoun, get rid of Settle,” during their march.

Students, teacher and parents “Walk Out” from Worth Co High in protest

Posted by Marilyn Parker WALB on Monday, March 4, 2019

Worth County High School (WCHS) students want to keep their current principal, Harley Calhoun, after an online job posting for his position sparked confusion and concern through the county.

Students marched alongside parents and teachers in support of Calhoun, after school Superintendent Bill Settle recommended Calhoun’s contract not be renewed.

Tammy Holton was one of the teachers who marched.

“They need to listen to the students. They are the ones in the classroom, they are the ones in the schools. They know more than anyone how the changes and these rules are impacting their education,” said Holton.

WCHS students marching to Worth County Board of Education"s Office in support for principal Harley Calhoun.
WCHS students marching to Worth County Board of Education"s Office in support for principal Harley Calhoun.

“He’s nice to everyone, he speaks to everyone in the hallways, he’s just a great person and he does a lot of fellowship and leadership for the ones that’s coming up,” said Rachel Thomas, a WCHS senior.

Darran McGill is a parent of a WCHS student and believes it’s great that his student was a part of the march.

“I told them, ‘Great,’" said McGill. "It’s important to have your voice heard and whatever protest you have to do, as long as it’s sensible and peaceful, I’m all for it.”

Board members said principals can be recommended for “renewal” by the superintendent on an annual basis.

“We are looking into the concerns of the citizens of Worth County. The community has expressed to keep Calhoun as principal and so do I,” said Hubert Souter, a Worth County Board of Education member.

Some board members said Settle has not made a formal recommendation on Calhoun’s future with the school.

On Friday, Settle released a statement.

The Worth County Board of Education has not taken any personnel action at this time concerning any employee’s renewal for next year. Myself and the Worth County Board of Education are committed to ensuring all of our schools have the most effective leadership in place to increase student achievement and the district’s graduation rate.
Worth County Superintendent Bill Settle

School board attorney Tommy Coleman said the board will make the final decision.

“He can post it and the board not agree and it would be no vacancy and it would be annulled,” said Coleman.

Settle didn’t tell Coleman why he is making that recommendation. Nor did he explain it in the written statement he sent us.

Some parents, like Tatina Tucker, are calling for changes at the highest level.

“Keep Mr. Calhoun here. And so I do hope for his sake and for his family’s sake and for our students’ sake that happens," said Tucker. "At the end of the whole thing, the parents and our community are hoping for the resignation of our school superintendent.”

John Tibbets is another teacher who said he wants teachers to be included in decisions about their school.

“I want to see my fellow professionals lifted up and have that voice and be consulted,” said Tibbets.

Coleman said that’s a problem he’s heard before.

“That’s kind of been bubbling up over there, not only this issue, but with other issues as well,” said Coleman.

Teachers said a new principal would create more inconsistency for their students.

“We’ve got a rising senior class that if they get a new principal, it will be their third principal in their high school career,” said Tibbets.

“That’s not stability and children of all people need to be in a stable environment, especially in the school system,” said Holton.

Ultimately, they said they hope the board considers who these changes affect the most.

After Monday’s march, the Sylvester Worth Chapter of the NAACP is still calling for Settle’s resignation.

Benjamin Whidby, the president of that chapter, was at Monday’s march.

Students march to save principal's job

The organization called for Settle’s resignation because according to teachers and staff, the superintendent makes employees uncomfortable and uses unethical and biased behavior.

Whidby said that right now, they are still compiling information against him to continue building their case.

“The superintendent is a bully. He bullies the teachers and the students and he just feels like whoever he wants to fire, he fires them. We are hoping that he just steps down. It’s really just evident that he’s not doing a good job,” said Whidby.

Whidby also said he hopes Monday’s demonstration opens the eyes of the school board members as well.

WALB reached out to Settle on Monday but have yet to hear back.

According to a Facebook page, parents plan to meet on Thursday to discuss further actions with board members.

It is projected over 200 people marched from WCHS to the Worth County Board of Education’s office on Monday.

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