Tupelo schools, council plan to make a joint statement

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council and School Board will soon release a joint statement about their plans to work together to address problems facing the schools and the city, Council President Fred Pitts said on Monday.
Three council members and two school board members met for about 90 minutes on Friday. That meeting comes in the midst of the city’s efforts to reverse its middle class decline, public concerns about discipline and academics in the school district and a community outcry about the school district’s reassignment of Tupelo High Principal Lee Stratton.
The district announced on Tuesday that Stratton would be replaced as Tupelo High’s principal by Chris Barnes, who currently leads a prekindergarten to eighth-grade elementary school in North Carolina. Superintendent Randy Shaver said that Stratton will be named a principal at another Tupelo school.
At Friday’s meeting, Pitts and School Board President Amy Heyer had talked about the possibility of a follow-up meeting on Monday, but the two will be unable to meet today, Pitts and Heyer each said.
Still, Pitts said, the two boards will release a joint statement, possibly on Tuesday morning.
“This is not an overnight solution,” Pitts said. “I don’t know that there will be a 1-2-3 step process because I don’t know what the 1-2-3 steps would be, but the public needs to know they are listening and we are listening and we are working together to find out as soon as possible what is the best direction for our school district to go.”
Student and parent groups have protested Stratton’s reassignment since Wednesday. One of those groups set up a website, http://www.beheardtupelo.com. On that site, visitors can sign an online petition.
The website also announces a rally for Tuesday, in which supporters will gather at the school district’s central office from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and then march to City Hall for the Council’s meeting, which begins at 6.
Three citizens are on Tuesday’s Council agenda to speak about “issues regarding the Tupelo Public School District.” They are Donna Daniels, Mark Weeden and Glenn Ross.