Residents, parents still want to have their input

Published 11:02 pm Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Selma resident Joann Bland shed tears as she described the fear she has knowing her granddaughter is in a school system that has undergone a state investigation that led to scathing report of sexual misconduct and other violations.

Bland, who keeps her phone on her just in case her grandchild calls with school-related problems, is one of many parents, family members and community members worried about the welfare of her loved ones.

Residents with loved ones within the Selma City School system have expressed anger, disappointment and sadness feeling their concerns are not heard.

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A scheduled public forum with State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice to be held at Selma High School gave several people faith they would have input after the local board denied them of it, but learning Bice will not hold a forum this week has inflicted some intense emotions among the group.

“I can’t describe how it felt when they told me that he was not coming,” Bland said. “Where do we go to even voice our concerns?”

Bland doesn’t believe the solution is a state takeover of the Selma City School System, but she doesn’t approve of the Selma City School Board creating a corrective action plan in response to the state investigation, because she believes it is the board that caused many of the highlighted in the investigation report.

“Nobody is doing anything,” Bland said in a broken whisper as tears streamed down her face. “Now you got these same people, sending out a report that’s going to make it right that isn’t anything but a bunch of pages.”

In a letter addressed to the Times-Journal, Selma resident Felicia King-Thomas, a parent of student within the city school system, shared her thoughts on the issue.

“I am disheartened that Dr. Bice’s schedule would not allow a personal appearance as I would like to thing that he consulted his calendar and various commitments prior to confirming to meet with the citizens’ on Jan. 16,” King-Thomas said. “I have no doubt that Dr. Bice has students’ interests at heart for I know he is a practitioner.”

Marvin Thomas, who has a niece and other relatives within the Selma City School System, said he has mixed emotions of anger and disappointment not having the security of knowing a school official with authority over the issues within the system will listen to the public’s concerns on this matter.

“We’re trapped, because we don’t know which way to go,” Thomas said. “The state seemed to be our last resource. We’re not through fighting. We’re fed up, but we’re not going to give up.”