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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — Plenty of questions surround the suspension of a Pender County principal. Parents say they want answers, and many want their principal back.

“I don’t know what he did to cause his suspension, and that’s what I need to find out,” parent Julie Harrell said.

Monday, Pender County NAACP president Rachel Stephens told one news outlet she and her group had complaints about Burgaw Middle School principal M.D. Coleman, who the school board suspended for the remainder of the school year Friday. The district said it could not “provide further details,” because it’s a personnel issue, but Tuesday superintendent Allison Sholar told The Pender Post Coleman’s suspension had nothing to do with the civil rights group’s local chapter.

“I have not spoken at all with Rachel Stephens,” Sholar told the Post’s Andy Pettigrew. “It has nothing to do with the NAACP. I don’t cower to them, and they don’t make my decisions for me.”

Parents gathered at Burgaw Middle School in support of Coleman Monday afternoon. The news of his suspension came as a shock to parents.

“He’s very supportive of our children and that’s what matters most to me,” said BMS parent Stephanie Stewart, “and we want him back. We are devastated.”

Early Monday morning Sholar held a meeting with teachers at Burgaw Middle School to tell them about the suspension, but details were few and far between.

“I’ve contacted the Board of Education. I’ve tried to contact teachers, and nobody can say anything,” Harrell said.

Parents say in his two years as principal, Coleman made drastic improvements. They say he helped eliminate a growing problem with gangs and improved test scores.

“He’s just such a great principal. He really is,” said Parent Teacher Organization VP Sedalia Johnson. “And when I heard it, it brought me to tears.”

With many students already taking end of grade exams, parents say the timing couldn’t have been worse.

“EOGs are a stressful time anyway,” Stewart said. “This shouldn’t be happening.”

“It’s a critical time for them,” Johnson said, “and to snatch him out of the school right now, you know, disrupts everything they’re trying to achieve.”

The Parent Teacher Organization called an emergency meeting Monday night to show support for Coleman and to try and find answers.

“We definitely want an explanation for us and for him,” Johnson said.

We called two parents who’ve allegedly had issues with Principal Coleman. Our calls were not returned. Bobby Hudspeth, the district’s Director of Secondary Education, will take over as interim principal.

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11 Comments on "UPDATE: Superintendent says NAACP had nothing to do with principal’s suspension"

concerned parent
2015 years 9 months ago

Mr. Coleman was not escorted out of the school by the sheriffs department.From what I understand and from what the paper said,Burgaw police nor the sheriffs department were called in. Also,that no criminal investigations were being made.So what was so bad that he got suspended for.I found out today,that he doesn’t even know.If the Board of Education respected the citizens of this community then maybe they would give us some answers.All this speculation has caused problems, if the truth were known then we would know what we are really dealing with.I feel that the citizens of this community should be respected enough to know the facts.I am very disappointed in how Allison Sholar has handle this situation.Where is our respect? Oh and another thing,I heard MR. Coleman did not tear up any papers in front of a student.Too Much speculation.

2015 years 9 months ago

or perception?

While she states she does not cower to the NAACP, something transpired which caused Ms. Sholar to pursue the suspension.

And like it or not, the head of the Pender County NAACP is quoted in other media sources indicating she has received “complaints” concerning the suspended Principal.

Guess she still has that dog on a leash she needs to put in the fight.

I wish someone had the nerve to call them out and take them to court or the pound.

As a taxpayer, I am distressed to see so much in Education resources being spent to respond to the dog fighting group when the resources should go to the process of providing an education.

If this proves to be another frivilous circus put on by the NAACP, I hope the County will bill them and their county chapter President for resources expended. And then let’s hope Mr. Roper and Mr. Coleman each file lawsuits seeking real and punitive damages.

2015 years 9 months ago

You can thank the one legal racist organisation in Pender, the NAACP. They like to stir the pot and go on witch hunts.

2015 years 9 months ago

You know, the Klu Klux Klan is a legal organization, right? It may not be right, but it is legal.

A Concerned Teacher
2015 years 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Reggie:

Your ignorance is showing.

Here’s the definition of ignorance, so you don’t have to look it up:

“Ignorance is the state in which one lacks knowledge, is unaware of something or chooses to subjectively ignore information. This should not be confused with being unintelligent, as one’s level of intelligence and level of education or general awareness are not the same.”

Burgaw Elementary just called and they want you back to repeat 5th grade. You’re not dumb or stupid, you just lack knowledge and awareness (or choose to ignore information.) Do your research, and we’ll see you at Burgaw Middle as soon as you are able to make statements based on facts.

Sincerely, A Concerned Teacher

2015 years 9 months ago

If it wasn’t true then they wouldn’t be in your churches, your schools and trying to insert their agenda into the government.

Advancement of Controversial Practices.

2015 years 9 months ago

As a parent I would want to know why he was suspended before I ran out and showed my support for this guy. There must be a reason for the suspension and before I start demanding his job back and saying what bad timing this was I want to make sure he didn’t do something that could be detrimental to the kids.

S. Johnson
2015 years 9 months ago

Of course we parents want to know the rationale for suspending Mr. Coleman, however when you work day in and day out over 2 years with a person and only see positive actions, you must stand by what you see. Because in these United States a man/woman is presumed INNOCENT until EVIDENCE proves otherwise. Not the other way around. Mr. Coleman has had 2 evaluations by his superiors and never received any reprimands. If there was any DIRT to be discovered, they would have let it slip to protect their reputations. As it is they are left scrambling trying to backfill or retroactively create allegations. To date I have heard nothing to negate the high esteem we hold him in.

A Concerned Teacher
2015 years 9 months ago

Another reader wrote:

“As a parent I would want to know why he was suspended before I ran out and showed my support for this guy. There must be a reason for the suspension and before I start demanding his job back and saying what bad timing this was I want to make sure he didn’t do something that could be detrimental to the kids.”

THANK YOU for adding a comment that makes sense! Over the course of this school year, Sholar and the Board of Education have NOT backed down from unsubstantiated NAACP complaints.

(Btw, I’m white, if that matters.)

Therefore, for the Burgaw Middle principal to be escorted out by sheriff’s deputies at this point in the school year, Sholar and the BOE had to have had some pretty good evidence of something really bad.

Folks, remember, across the country, all public schools have to put student safety as their #1 priority, even before student learning. So, whatever Coleman did, I’d have to guess that Sholar and the Board of Ed had good reason to believe that with Coleman there, Burgaw Middle was not safe.

Everyone wants details, but if there is a criminal investigation going on, we won’t hear any of the facts for a while. In the meantime, let’s not rush to judge in either direction OR make stuff up. Instead, let’s be glad that Sholar and the Board of Ed made a decision that keeps our students safe.

2015 years 9 months ago

Just for standing up to Rachel Stuphens.

But it is up to Coleman to go public and defend himself or clue the public in on what is happening. Whether it is to man-up and admit to something and be honorable and leave as taking the punishment or defend his name.

Being that there has been so many questionable practices in the public schools over punishment for school personnel abuses, more information should be presented to the public. This guy DOES work at a public school where the public’s children are being educated.

Will this guy quit and migrate to another school system without a problem worthy of suspension being noted in the public record? If it was an abuse of a child, who will the next victims parents answer to?

A government employee, any government employee, should be accountable to the public that pays their salary.

2015 years 9 months ago

Why is it that a few bad apples can ruin the whole barrel….That is what has happened at BMS. A few have condemned a good man who has done a remarkable job turning a school around in less than 2 years. He has poured his life into BMS for OUR children. He has made decisions that have not been popular with his students and some of their parents; mainly his strict uniform policy. I have not always agreed with him on things but have always found a open door to discuss them with him. Even though I may still not agree with him, I at least understand where he is coming from and that he truly feels that it is best thing for our children. I cannot ask any more of a principal than to always have OUR children’s best interest at heart. He is not there making decisions for a few children but all of OUR children and we need to remember to look at the whole picture and not have tunnel vision which focuses only on our child. So why ruin the reputation and career of someone who has given his heart and soul to making BMS a better school for OUR children……It does not make sense. If anyone reading this is part of the reason Mr. Coleman is no longer our principal, I pray that you look outside of your tunnel and look at the whole picture as to what your actions have done to it. God bless you Mr. Coleman for all you have done for BMS. MANY of us are extremely appreciative!!!!


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