To: Superintendent L’Homme and Durham Public School Board Members
“We will need help from families, partner agencies, and communities,” states Durham Public Schools Superintendent Bert L’Homme’s February 5th commentary regarding DPS’s challenges in meeting the educational needs of low-performing students (LHomme_DN_Feb2017). By ‘help’, DPS means ‘We need you to keep your children in our schools.” I get that. But parents don’t want their kids in schools that don’t sincerely welcome parent involvement. My child attended Lowe’s Grove Middle School (www.schooldigger.com/LGMS) from 2012-2015, and I was flabbergasted by the intimidating culture and lack of support – indeed, inhibition – of real parent involvement. Several parents tried desperately to start a PTA during this time but were thwarted by the acting principal and long-time teachers who considered our passion a threat. I have since learned that another group has tried to establish an LGMS PTA with the same results. The current principal has stated her preference for a PTO, which avoids the external oversight and participation required by PTA’s and has long been perceived as a means by which a principal/school can take control of PTA functions. I’ve also learned that many of our poorly performing schools share this non-inclusive culture and lack active PTA’s as a result. “This is MY school,” the LGMS principal told me a week after we met, and therein lies the problem. If DPS wants us to send our children to their schools, particularly their middle schools, they must recognize (in action as well as words) that these are OUR schools and direct their principals to enable parent involvement by facilitating active and engaged PTA’s.