Durham County

‘It could have easily been us.’ Durham teachers respond to possible state takeover

Teachers from across the Durham Public Schools system are standing up for Lakewood Elementary and Glenn Elementary, the two schools being considered for conversion to the state’s new N.C. Innovative School District.

They’ve taken to social media to show their support for their embattled colleagues during this time of uncertainty.

Brian Proffitt, president of the Durham Association of Educators, said the organization wanted its members to reach out to the Lakewood and Glenn teachers and staff.

“It is important for teachers and staff at Lakewood and Glenn to know they are not alone,” Proffitt said. “We look at each other as family, because we spend as much of our lives with each other as we do with our with our actual family.”

Proffitt said more than 20 schools have expressed their support for the schools.

Teachers at Eastway Elementary were especially outspoken.

“Eastway is sending love to Lakewood and Glenn Elementary Schools,” a Facebook post from Turquoise LeJeune Parker said. “It could have easily been us at Eastway. We know those teachers at Glenn and Lakewood work hard and love their students. We’re with you guys.”

Eastway was on the initial list of 48 schools but was not among the final six.

According to DPS spokesman Chip Sudderth, the principals at Lakewood and Glenn have been overwhelmed by the support coming their way.

“Mr. (Cornelius) Redfearn and Mr. (James) Hopkins are focusing on teaching and learning in their schools,” Sudderth said. “Their teachers and staff are thrilled by the support from DAE members and families across Durham. The message our students, and those who support them are hearing is that our community believes in Glenn and Lakewood.”

Lakewood and Glenn were tagged as low-performing schools and identified by the State Board of Education for consideration for a potential takeover. They’re on the final list of six schools in the state that could be taken over next year.

DPS already has taken steps that could improve the schools. Outgoing DPS superintendent Bert L’Homme said the school district has granted Lakewood and Glenn flexibility to be more like charter schools that the State Board of Education allows.

A decision on the takeover by the N.C. Innovative School District is expected in December.

Until then, Proffitt said the DAE will continue opposing the takeover. The DAE has started an online petition and is using the moniker Defend Durham Schools as a rallying cry.

“We understand that the ISD is about privatization and we want our schools to stay public and we’re willing to fight for that,” Proffitt said.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews