Mount Hebron parents protest officials' transfer School's stability seen threatened

June 17, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Mount Hebron parents say they will file an appeal with the Howard County school board to protest the transfer of their school's top three administrators.

Parents say the transfers would jar the stability that Mount Hebron has enjoyed for years and disrupt plans for the school to go forward with site-based management next year.

Marty Bode, leader of a group of parents filing the appeal, called the transfers "a slap in the face to Mount Hebron.

"Mount Hebron is steeped in tradition that we feel goes from the administrative level to the student level," she said. "The removal of all three administrators will leave us with no one who understands what Mount Hebron is all about. Certainly the teachers do, and certainly the parents do. But no one in the administration [will]."

The group plans to file under the school board's formal appeals process, which requires a complaint to be filed 30 days after a decision is made. The group has 23 more days. If it is dissatisfied with the county school board's decision, the group has the option of filing another one with the state school board.

School spokeswoman Patti Caplan said parents have a right to file an appeal, but she doesn't think they have a basis to win. "Your hope is always they will see the positive in the decisions that are made," she said.

She said the school system has in the past transferred both administrators at the elementary school level, but it doesn't often transfer all three at the high school level. "It's not something we do frequently, but when we do do it, there's a reason we do it," she said.

School officials have said that the moves will enable the administrators a chance to further their careers.

The announcement that principal Edgar Markley and assistant principals Stephen Wallis and Joan Lane would be transferred next school year has caused uproar in the Mount Hebron community. Last week, students staged a brief walkout at the school, and angry parents protested at the school board meeting, which had to be adjourned twice because of outbursts.

"It's a good school," said parent Susan Palmer. "The staff has a good rapport with the students. The administration has a good rapport with the students."

Dr. Markley, who has been at Mount Hebron for 13 years, will swap places with Centennial High School's Sylvia Pattillo, who had asked for a new assignment. Mr. Wallis is being reassigned to Wilde Lake High School, and Ms. Lane will follow Dr. Markley to Centennial.

On Monday night, Superintendent Michael E. Hickey, Associate Superintendent James McGowan and Director of High Schools Daniel Jett held a meeting with a small group of parents to try to quell concerns. The parents there came up with some suggestions for school officials, including reassigning to Mount Hebron a Wilde Lake assistant principal who had previously worked at Mount Hebron. School officials have not gotten back to the parents regarding their suggestions.

Parents held separate meetings to discuss plans of the appeal. Students and parents alike are afraid that some of their school's traditions may be squashed by the new administration. Dr. Markley, for example, has made it a practice to raise a No. 1 flag whenever any of the school's team win a championship. Every homecoming, students have a design competition in which they paint sections of a wall at the school's backfield, and they hold a parade.

"It's like a small town," said Ms. Bode. "It's a very exciting time for the kids."

Parents are concerned that the school's overcrowding, in addition to a new administration, would put stress on teachers that would eventually affect their students' education. They say they understand that the time for Dr. Markley to leave the

school to further his career has come, but they would like to have Mr. Wallis stay behind.

"Everything he could do, he has done for the school and the students," said Shirley Abraham, a 17-year-old junior. "I strongly feel that Mr. Wallis, out of any of the three, he should stay at the school."

Dr. Markley, who began as a guidance counselor at Mount Hebron, has become an icon at the school, students say. The little things he does -- such as holding a principal's breakfast for students who make the honor roll -- and his laid-back manner has made him well-liked.

Students also praised Mr. Wallis, who became a class government sponsor at a time when teachers worked-to-rule because of budget problems that forced the school board to cut their salary raises.

"He did everything for us," said Sarah Parvis, a junior. "He made reservations for us for prom. He works very closely with students, even with his administrative load."

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