Thomasville City Schools parents, students concerned about school leaders’ actions

Thomasville City Schools parents, students concerned about school leaders’ actions
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:07 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 11:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Some controversy within the Thomasville City Schools is creating tension between concerned parents, the school board and the superintendent.

Some concerns parents and students have included the downsizing of the Thomasville football team’s field house and a potential cutback in AP courses.

Ava Fletcher, a student at Scholars Academy, said she just wants to be heard.

“No superintendent or a school board member has asked how we feel or even that what want these changes,” Fletcher said.

She added that it’s not only those concerns that she fears will negatively impact future students but also the well-being of some of her teachers — teachers she claims aren’t getting enough support from the school board and superintendent Dr. Raymond Bryant, Jr.

“I’ve seen the teachers are more stressed out over the past few years,” she said. “Happy teachers promote happy students and if the teachers aren’t happy with their jobs or their bosses who reign over them, I think that it’s not possible.”

The cutback on AP classes has not been voted on by the school board. However, April Fletcher, Ava’s mom, is still concerned. She claims school leaders haven’t communicated the future of the AP program. With an increased graduation rate of 74%, April said it won’t keep improving with the current controversy.

“If you take away all those AP classes, those kids are gonna go somewhere else. The graduation rate is going to be even lower,” April Fletcher said.

She also said with the fate of the football team’s field house uncertain, the football program is in danger.

“To downsize that field house is really, honestly, a slap in the face to these boys that get out there and you know are knocking heads on Friday night for our entertainment. You know we’ve got to show the love,” April said.

Over 100 people showed up at Wednesday night’s called Thomasville City School Board meeting at 6 p.m. to address those concerns circling within the district.

A big crowd showed up to the board meeting to address concerns.
A big crowd showed up to the board meeting to address concerns.(WALB)

“Our community in the past has sometimes chosen to be divided on important issues. That division has slowed progress and created distinction that in the end, it benefits no one,” said Mark Merchant, a concerned resident.

Some people showed their support for Bryant.

“I’m shocked and disappointed in this witch-hunt atmosphere that is permeating this system and community. At this point in the school year, we should all focus on preparing students for the Georgia Milestones and let Dr. Bryant do his job,” said Morris Arrington, a concerned former educator.

President of the NAACP Thomas County Branch Lucinda Brown said Dr. Bryant has shown equality for all students throughout the district.

“We have had three superintendents and 2 interims in the last five years. It is time for this to stop,” Brown said.

Others in attendance posed questions, claiming that school leaders aren’t meeting their expectations

“Unfortunately since last week’s meeting, I’ve seen no communication from the board office addressing concerns regarding a potential budget deficit, the reduction of AP courses possible removal of principals and increasing classroom size,” said Courtney Williams, a concerned parent.

Marchant said he was most concerned about the school district’s safety protocols.

“Surely on the important issue of school safety we can all stand together united as one Thomasville,” he said.

Bryant addressed all concerns, followed by an action plan for each, including the concern about AP classes.

“As a professional educator, it would not behoove me in any way to try and reduce or diminish the importance of kids who have a high altitude,” Bryant said. “My goal as superintendent is to make sure that all 2,800 students have the opportunity to engage where they can have that opportunity to higher education but also in AP classes and dual enrollment.”

Dr. Bryant said he has plans to use action pans to resolve some of parent's concerns.
Dr. Bryant said he has plans to use action pans to resolve some of parent's concerns.(WALB)

Bryant also said he’s made improvements to the school system since taking on the role 18 months ago and will continue with that same goal.

“My goal as superintendent is to have an unrelenting pursuit of academic and care for all students that is the mission and the goal that I said to the board members went they gave me the opportunity 18 months ago. That’s what I’ll remain committed to,” he said.

When asked about plans to downsize the football players’ field house, Raymond said he plans to meet with football coaches to discuss what is most beneficial within the standing budget.