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.