The local NAACP president has officially voiced his dissatisfaction with the Danville High School principal hiring process and believes a Danville native should have been interviewed for the recently filled position.
Norman Bartleson, president of the Danville NAACP, sent a letter to Danville Board of Education and The Advocate-Messenger on Tuesday.
In it, he says 1987 Danville High School graduate Dr. Marcus Stallworth should have received an interview for the position. Regarding Stallworth, he wrote, “Danville, ‘The City of Firsts,’ has yet again allowed a stellar African-American candidate to slip through her fingers.”
The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution paint a different picture and claim Stallworth was a key player in the biggest standardized test cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools history.
Stallworth was principal at Fain Elementary School in Atlanta when in 2009 state investigators noticed that 40 percent of the classrooms at the school returned standardized testing forms with an unusually high number of erasures, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The results of the subsequent investigation claimed Stallworth had ordered teachers to give students extra time and guide them to the correct standardized test answers through using cues such as voice inflection and pointing.
Stallworth denied the allegations but was fired in 2011 for allegedly verbally abusing staff members. A number of teachers under Stallworth’s leadership were also fired for their alleged participation in the cheating scandal or their failure to report Stallworth’s orders.
Stallworth could not be reached for comment.
During a phone interview Wednesday, Bartleson said he had “heard something” about Stallworth’s firing, but he still believes Stallworth deserved an interview.
“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Bartleson said. “He hasn’t been in jail. He’s still an Admiral through and through.”
While Danville Superintendent Carmen Coleman would not discuss individual applicants, she said she and the school council were trying to find the best candidate for the position and that race did not play any role in their decisions regarding whom to interview.
“I’m disappointed the NAACP has decided to voice their concerns through the newspaper before even trying to talk to me,” Coleman said. “All they had to do was ask for a meeting with me and they would learn that I have made contact and met individually with several potential minority candidates in efforts to bring them to our district since being here.”
Coleman said the person hired, former DHS assistant principal Aaron Etherington, was the best choice out of 14 applications received. Etherington has worked at DHS since 2005.
Coleman and school council members interviewed three people besides Etherington for the position. Bartleson said the superintendent did not interview at least two other African-American applicants.
“It is important to note that applicants do not indicate ethnicity on our applications,” Coleman said. “This means that unless candidates for any position are known to those who are looking to hire, we don't have any way of knowing whether or not a candidate is a minority.”