Some parents at Lead Mine Elementary School in North Raleigh are calling for the school’s principal to be removed.
An online petition on change.org says parents are concerned about teachers leaving the school, an “unprofessional” environment, students’ safety and quality of education. It also says parents are concerned about principal April Hill’s management style.
By Friday afternoon, 73 people had signed the petition, which asks for a meeting with Wake County school leaders and for Hill to be removed.
“The overall environment has changed this year,” said Tracy Roy, a Lead Mine parent who signed the petition. “It’s always been a positive, energetic and team-driven school. We feel like that is missing or that it is not nearly as deep as it was before.”
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Leslie Blackwood, president of the school’s parent-teacher association, sent a letter Thursday to parents asking people to bring their concerns directly to Hill or Wake school officials.
“While we acknowledge that this year has been one of transition and that there are several concerning issues facing the school right now, the PTA did not participate in the creation of and does not condone the petition,” the letter said.
Last year, 36.6 percent of students at Lead Mine received free or reduced-price lunch. The school met its standardized test growth requirements for the year.
Hill was appointed principal of Lead Mine Elementary, a school with nearly 600 students, in June 2014, after spending two years as principal of Carpenter Elementary School in Cary.
She graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1997 and earned a master’s degree in school administration from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2004. She has been an administrator in Wake County since 2005.
Hill did not return phone calls for comment.
Some parents say they want to meet with area superintendent Pamela Kinsey-Barker and the Wake County school board. They’ve been denied a meeting in the past, said Roy, who has had children enrolled at Lead Mine for the past nine years.
She said some parents chose to meet one on one with Hill to address their concerns and others reached out to Kinsey-Barker through phone calls and email.
“I would love to discuss my thoughts with someone in administration,” Sherre Walstad posted on the online petition, saying she has a grandchild at the school.
Kinsey-Barker has heard from Lead Mine parents and works to contact every parent who reaches out, said Wake County schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten.
Kinsey-Barker is also working with Hill and other school staff members to address some parents’ concerns, Luten said.
Under Hill’s leadership at Carpenter Elementary, 32 percent of teachers said they felt like there was an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect at the school, according to a 2014 teacher working conditions survey administered by the state Department of Public Instruction.
Across Wake County public schools, 71 percent of teachers said the same of their schools.
At Carpenter, 27 percent of teachers said they felt comfortable raising issues and concerns, compared to 69 percent of teachers across the district.
Carpenter Elementary had relatively high staff turnover rates under Hill’s leadership, state report cards show.
In the 2012-13 school year, Hill’s first year as principal, staff turnover at Carpenter was at 24 percent. Meanwhile, the Wake district had an 11 percent turnover rate.
In the online petition, Lead Mine parents expressed concern about teachers leaving.
“Education is so important and the schools need to have supportive administrators, not bullies,” Patty Moyer of Raleigh posted on the petition site.
According to the petition, the school is facing a 50 percent turnover rate. But the school system has not received official notice of that many teachers leaving, Luten said.
Luten said several people at Lead Mine have retired, and there have also been some on maternity leave and others who received promotions.
“I feel our great school is going downhill way too fast,” Ashley Murr of Raleigh wrote on the petition website. “I expect change and accommodations when new leadership takes over. However our once Lead Mine family is now tarnished by the abrupt exit of quality teachers and families.”