Dr. Tim Markley Speaks Out About School Concerns

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Submitted: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 3:21am
Updated: Tue, 08/05/2014 - 12:44pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — One month and three days after we requested an interview, New Hanover County School’s Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley agreed to an interview.

We started with concerns about Ashley High School and the teacher satisfaction survey that showed most of their teachers were unhappy.

“It’s not a thing where nothing is being done,” Markley said, “but in terms of measuring success it’s not a thing where I can flip a light switch and the light comes on. It’s a process. It takes time.”

Markley says it’s not just about the teacher surveys. He says improved academic numbers have weight, too. Teachers told us the academic numbers are up because they don’t want to let their students down. Those numbers, they say, do not reflect the respect they feel from the school’s administration.

“Well, I would say he’s met with some teachers over the summer,” Markley said of Ashley principal Jackson Norvell. “He had a large group of teachers in last week, and we’ll see what happens when (Norvell) returns.”

We were at that meeting; one where teachers voiced some of their concerns. None of the teachers coming out would speak with us on camera, but they did say the meeting went well. They said they weren’t talking to us, because they feared retribution, even if they were discussing good things.

“I would say if they have those concerns, they should come to us, and we’ll be happy to talk to them about their concerns,” Markley said. “But I’m not seeing the mass exodus of teachers that you’re speaking of.”

He says only three teachers have transferred out of Ashley this year. WWAY has been unable to independently confirm that number.

We asked if he was taking action on those survey results, specifically action toward Norvell.

“I mean that’s a down-the-road kind of question,” Markley said. “It is not a question you ask on the first day students come back in August.”

We asked New Hanover County Schools for information regarding exactly how many teachers have left all of the county’s high schools this year. We have been told we will get that information soon.


  • Speak says:

    1. Dr. Markley is fine waiting for the school year to begin because often the sheer momentum forces us to focus only on getting the work done. He hopes this will be marginalized and soon forgotten. SO DON’T LET OUR VOICES FADE. KEEP TALKING!

    2. Parents and staff: email and call our Board Members. The newer members especially are interested in hearing from us. THEY NEED REASONS TO MAKE CHANGES.

    3. Students: your voices are so important! You have an opportunity to help change our school for the better. You cannot and will not be penalized for speaking up. We, your teachers, will always support you. Do you really want a school where rules aren’t enforced, where those who do nothing get the same grades as those who work hard, and where your principal doesn’t care to know you? It may seem like the majority of the student body relishes apathy, that those who care are in the minority, but it is actually the other way around. I know you to be intelligent, passionate, and driven. It is scary to step forward and speak, but you will be surprised at how many will also step with you. Your voices will carry further because they are unspoiled by politics, money, and power. If it is in your heart, SPEAK.

  • Guest2020 says:

    You make some excellent points. I wouldn’t put it past the superintendent to be putting it off for just that reason. People need to be like those persistent and annoying yappy little dogs that never shut up. Keep at it and make them listen.

    Another poster talked about being at that workshop for this. It sounds like a joke that was put together just to have the appearance of doing something. The worst part about this is that when it comes right down to it, the kids are the ones who suffer because the adults who can affect a change refuse to do so.

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    The administration and school board has had months to rectify the situation at Ashley. They have ignored it. The situation will only get worse. A leopard does not change his spots. Remember, the staff at Ashley, what is left of it, is composed of people who do not tell the truth.

  • Missing Comments says:

    I’ve been checking in on this story, and I’m trying to figure out why some comments have been deleted. Nothing in the Comment Policy says anything about deleting comments without cause, and the comment in question was well presented, did not include anything abusive or inflammatory, and to the best of my knowledge was entirely factual. I am extremely disappointed in WWAY for removing this comment, while other comments on other stories have remained even in cases of abusive language, outright falsehoods, or personal attacks.

    According to the comment policy linked above, all comments are moderated prior to being approved. As the comment in question had apparently been approved, since it was live on the site, I would love an explanation as to what part of this comment caused this obvious censorship, or what outside factors or influence led to its removal. The disclaimer clearly states that comments are the opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY, its management or employees, yet the removal of a previously published comment without explanation would certainly seem to be based on the opinions of WWAY staff or management.

    Make it right. Either explain the reason for its removal, or restore the comment.

  • anonymous says:

    Please address this asap.

  • Ashley Teacher says:

    Why are comments being removed? WWAY has been doing such a great job informing the public of the problems at Ashley, don’t stop now. Is there an outside influence that is requiring you to censor your site?

  • Mark Hicks says:

    All concerned parents need to email Dr. Marley and set up a meeting with him to voice your concerns with the situation at Ashley.

    Until enough parents start getting involved with this, nothing is going to happen.

    Janice Cavenaugh sent me and email a couple of weeks ago stating that the “Superintendent now agrees to meet with parents”, and only four of us to my knowledge have met with him.

    Also, parents need to email the school board members, go to board meetings and speak,then get involved with the election this fall.

    Let’s get to work and change things.

  • Guest1010 says:

    I’m not surprised at all!!

  • Ashley Teacher says:

    My comment has been removed. It was a little sarcastic in some parts and probably far too long, but I don’t see how it goes against your comment policy. Since it was approved to be initially published, I’m assuming that someone contacted WWAY and asked for it to be taken down. Can you tell me what part of the comment was problematic? I think the censorship of what I had to say is very odd, but I would be happy to edit the offending remark so the rest of my opinion can still be heard.

  • Guestofferson says:

    …the facial expression of the “Super” very often looks like he’s caught a really bad whiff of a very offensive odor. Nuff said?

  • Concerned parent says:

    Why is there always a need to “spin” things by the superintendent and other administrators. Just tell the truth. Tell us you messed up putting an office full of inexperienced administrators together. Tell us you have a principal that is following a failed model of bullying he learned from his mentor who has been run off from his school for the same failed practices. Tell us the truth that you are not offering any classes in the world language dept other than Spanish and that our students who took French and Latin are resolved to take their foreign language through virtual means or switch to Spanish. Be honest about the fact you are dropping several AP class offerings and no 7 am classes. Explain to us that you have allowed a cliquish atmosphere amongst your admin staff that harkens one back to high school days. Tell me the truth about a concerned parent not being able to get in the front office after 4 pm because the lights are off and the door is locked, yet because of work that is the earliest a parent can get off work. Just please quit trying to sugar coat everything and just be honest.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    $200K per year Carol.

    Where would the funds come from to buy him out?

    It’s great to say “buy him out”.

    But with budgets in place; cutting support for drivers ed, where would the money come from?

    Cut teacher subsidies? Cut 6 or 7 teacher positions to find the money?

    It’s not that simple.

  • Carol Kramer says:

    Why do we still have to deal with this very, very creepy Superintendent?

    Students/parents/teachers/principals should no longer be subjected to this morally challenged Superintendent. I can’t think of anything that’s gotten better since he’s been here.

    Is it better to pay him and keep him lurking around OR pay him and be free of his toxic presence?

    WWAY – Let’s do a survey!

  • Guest2020 says:

    Do you know if the school board has the authority to step in and remove the principal since the superintendent is unwilling to do so?

  • SurfCityTom says:

    I was responding to a post concerning removal of the Superintendant.

  • Guest2020 says:

    I know and I thought that since it would be costly to remove the superintendent if the people concerned could go over his head to have the principal removed. Your post got me to thinking so I asked.

  • Sam Walker says:

    Jackson Norvell is a spineless coward that doesn’t has the ethics or ability to be a high school principal. He should be removed immediately. Ashley High has an assistant principal that is much better qualified to be the principal. Oust Norvell now!

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    The NHCS Board is elected by the voters of New Hanover County. They, in turn, hired Markley. Everyone in the school system works for the NHCS Board and can be removed by their say so. For some reason, they have chosen to remain mute on this issue though many hundreds, if not thousands of parents, teachers, students, and other citizens have contacted them by telephone, e-mail, and in person. They have allowed the situation at Ashley to become so chaotic the teachers (who remain) hide in their rooms, the principal calls his staff liars to the press, and students are embarassed to admit that they attend Ashley High School. Ashley has become the county’s joke.

    Fortunately, for the citizens of New Hanover County, this is an election year. We have the opportunity to remove some dead wood from the school board. Three of the longest sitting members, Don Hayes, Ed Higgins, and Jeanette Nichols are all running for reelection. The voters of New Hanover County can tell them quite dramaticly in November exactly what they think of their handling of both the Marley situation and the Ashley situation. Apparently, they have been on the school board for so long, they feel that they cannot be unseated. Let’s show them differently in November. Please get out and VOTE! Help unseat these incumbents. Save our schools.

  • Concerned says:

    Dr. Markley is one of the weakest leaders in any school system anywhere in NC. He has not taken a stand on anything of substance at any time during his tenure. This is exactly why he has a job in NHCS. The school board wants to have a docile employee that they can manipulate, who will not take a stand, and has no stamina nor fortitude for the job. Donald Hayes is the superintendent, people. He has kept Markley on for these reasons, as he never had his opportunity as a building or system leader (was an AP at one point). Why would this board make any change to the puppet they have created? Why would this board do anything less than tolerate the incompetence of this man, when in reality, they seek to have a lapdog that will obey them. This is the way it works in New Hanover County, and this is why we are losing great people left and right. The county is headed backwards, and it will continue to do so until we vote in new board members who will make it a point to replace this superintendent as a priority, and begin taking on the issues that need to be addressed in this county. If we are not willing to vote out Hayes, Cavenaugh, and Higgins, we get what we deserve. However voting to support the bond referendum with this board and this superintendent in place is a waste of our money and hard earned dollars. Think before you re-elect. You are not only re-electing antiquated wannabes, you are in turn voting to hang onto Markley.

  • NHCS Teacher says:

    I have 16 yrs of teaching exp, with a Master’s degree…and I make less than Markley’s girlfriend, who doesn’t have my qualifications. I also have outside work experience-worked for Dept of Navy for several years. Where’s my huge pay raise like Stephanie’s? Oh…..I forgot. I’m not sleeping with him. He’s a disgusting man who cares only for himself. He needs to go away.

  • MG says:

    If teachers would not speak to WWAY on camera because of a fear of retribution, then there is a serious problem within the school system. Period.

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    How many requested positions in other schools, Dr. Markley, but did not get them because there were none available or the Ashley principal would not let them go? How many retired before they had planned to do so because they were eligible and had had enough of the situation at Ashley? What about the first year teacher who decided after a year at Ashley that teaching was not for her; what a loss? And the teacher who, after long discussions with her family decided the family would be better off if she stayed at home? What about the many teachers lost to surrounding counties,the ones who would rather drive a little farther than teach at Ashley? What about the ones who took better jobs at bigger schools in better counties? Or the ones who took the opportunity to go back to school? Oh, and let’s not forget the ones who were pushed out so New Hanover teachers could replace them. Those of us who love Ashley anticipated just such false an accounting of the numbers representing the mass exodus at Ashley. The Real numbers are somewhere between 20 and 30.

  • Eagles are Sore says:

    The teacher’s complaints are dismissed again. “It’s his first year..” The meeting that was held was only moderately effective. The administration participated and hovered around tables giving the impression of “listening in”. Can we be open in that kind of environment? The biggest problem is that the principal does not support his teachers, he doesn’t know any of us, he is quick to judge and make rash decisions instead of informed ones. He speaks before he thinks and he believes the students over the teachers. There is a balance to being a leader and he is incredibly lopsided.
    The true test will be when a student misses 30 days of class because they don’t feel like coming; will the teachers be forced to pass the student? It is obvious that the superintendent wishes only to focus on the bottom line, how many kids failed. Some of part of the positive academic numbers are a direct result in students being “pity-passed”. Students whose parents complain and bully teachers into passing them instead of holding the student accountable. This happens in every high school and has for years. However, the current administration at Ashley takes the bullying to a new level.

  • Anonymous says:

    As a long time Ashley parent, I am saddened by the present state of affairs. I have seen wonderful teachers either leave or face a transfer because they spoke up, asked questions, proposed alternatives. This culture of leadership by fear is truly unacceptable for teachers as well as students. Teachers and students deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness. This is “the magic” that works with most human beings, even in the most difficult of situations. Bring back Mr. McAdams who understood this!!!

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