An Open Letter To The Edgecombe County Public Schools Board Members In Reference To The Suspension Of Craig Harris Principal Of SouthWest Edgecombe High School After The Graduation Mess

First of all let me do an overview of how I see per the facts as I see them what lead up to the suspension of Craig Harris Principal SouthWest Edgecombe after he withheld a student diploma on Friday June 9, 2017. On the following Thursday June 15, 2017 Mr. Harris was suspended and it has not been officially announced why he was suspended by the Edgecombe County Public Schools.

I agree with Superintendent John Farrelly that it was unfortunate that during the media coverage several details were omitted, not considered or misconstrued.

First of all it is my opinion based on the facts as before me that Coach Shelton Langley 2017 Graduating Class Advisor and Craig Harris Principal did a great job on the ceremonial process until the mess happened with the student breaking the rules after he entered the stage. My video shows Coach Langley informing Mr. Harris that the student had pulled out an electronic device his cell phone and began reading a speech that was not approved. This were 2 violations, the student had an electronic device on the stage and then he began to read a speech that was not approved. This was an insult to the advisor, the principal, the entire staff, students, parents and all whom attended. But then on top of that there were more insult as the student was a part of contacting the local media sharing his story making appear that the advisor and the principal were disrespecting him when my video clearly shows that the advisor was informing the principal about the student has pulled out his cell phone but he attempt to make it look like Coach Langley and Principal Harris were disrespecting him by just talking behind him. At this time the principal could have insulted the student by standing up and asking for the microphone and if the student had not given it to him, the principal could have said the student was breaking 2 rules. The principal could have had the student removed from the stage which would have been another embarrassment. I feel the principal handled it well because he didn’t even say anything about the 2 rules being broken when he immediately followed the student’s speech as he stood and announced the students were officially graduates and that they could turn their tassels and march out.

The reason why the students do not receive their actual diploma during the ceremony is because if the student do something stupid it has been the rule of the day that the student will not walk and/or if they did something during the ceremony like the mess on June 9. This student marched and was told he would receive his diploma on the next week but Mr. Farrelly used his power to command Mr. Harris deliver the diploma on the following Sunday.

The media only shared the student’s side of the story and threw the principal under the bus. But this was done because Mr. Farrelly had already thrown the principal under the bus when he apologized to the student, said that Mr. Harris was was wrong for withholding the diploma sending a message to the community that it was illegal to withhold the diploma which is totally false. Mr. Farrelly said he didn’t see anything wrong with the speech.

Hell yeah something was wrong with the speech. He was not suppose to read a speech it was not approved. And then to read it from an electronic device he broke the rules.

I have a problem with Mr. Farrelly apologizing to the student because if Mr. Harris had done something wrong then he should have been the one to apologize.

Mr. Farrelly was wrong when he made the principal deliver the diploma on Sunday. I question Mr. Farrelly’s motive because he brought on more insult to the matter. The correct thing to do would have not to put Mr. Harris life in danger when he made him deliver the diploma on a Sunday. It is my opinion that Mr. Farrelly did that because the student was in the media on Monday being accepted into the Navy.

It is a damn shame that the message is out that it is okay for a student to disobey the principal but it is not okay for the principal to discipline a student while on his watch. The last time I checked the graduation is a school held event and considered the last day of school for graduating students. So since that is true then I don’t understand how Mr. Farrelly would throw his employee under the bus and making it appear as if the student was right. This is not like working in a store where “they” say the customer is always right. Oh hell no, I worked in the store business and if they were wrong I treated them as they were wrong.

It is a damn shame that because of Mr. Farrelly’s response to the student brought more insult to Edgecombe County and the nation because the student has been seen in the media almost worldwide if not worldwide. Nearly all of the media that they contacted, contacted me asking for permission to use my video and I told them to go to my blog for more information about the matter but I know of maybe 1 or 2 media outlets didn’t contact me but used my video anyway. I trust and believe that Mr. Farrelly shared with the media that he came in contact with the same information that he shared with me but the media intentionally chose not to tell the whole story. And when did the media stop reporting on the whole story? This is why it is so important that I cover meetings so because I give my spin on what took place but make the whole video available for everyone to see and they can form their own opinion.

I learned of Craig Harris Principal being suspended after it was sent to me by someone after they read it in the Rocky Mount Telegram. I have only heard rumors as to why. I don’t know the rumors to be true and since I don’t know Mr. Harris personally I have not been in contact with him. Matter of a fact I don’t even know if he live in Edgecombe, Nash County or where.

I have heard that Mr. Harris was suspended because of some grades being given to a student. First I heard that there were 2 subjects in question. The most recent I heard it was 1 subject in question. I heard that the student didn’t do well and was given an assignment to do and he didn’t complete it but the student was allowed to walk anyway. If this is true I hope that the principal suspension with pay should be enough. I also heard that there are a few young staff members at SouthWest that has a problem with being disciplined by Mr. Harris. I hope that Mr. Harris is not fired that he is not moved to another school and that this matter be brought to some closure on Monday evening during the special called meeting. On Friday I received a call from some retired educators and have spoke to them and some other stakeholders from the community that we want to attend the meeting on Monday to support Mr. Harris from what we have heard. Now if we do not have the correct information and his suspension grant more in depth of disciplinary actions then if we are to learn the truth, then we would accept the school board actions if they are not questionable.

If Mr. Harris is disciplined some kind of way and it is linked to the student I want to see the outcome correlate with the student. What do I mean? I will be waiting to see if Mr. Harris is disciplined some kind of way will the student diploma be taken back?

If I knew some staff members at SouthWest I would tell them that if the rumor is that school board is going to move Mr. Harris that they would request to meet with the school board in closed session to express how they support Mr. Harris. This was done several years ago when the rumor was a principal was going to be moved and the staff met with the school board and the principal was not moved.

I will be attending the meeting on Monday evening and I am somewhat emotional because public comments will not be allowed. So therefore I am sending this message so that you will know that myself and some stakeholders in the community are supporting Mr. Harris based on what we know as it relates to the rumor mill. But we know we stand behind the Mr. Harris withholding the diploma and telling the student that he could pick it up the following week. This is where I agree with Mr. Farrelly that Mr. Harris needed to set up time for the family to discuss the rules violation and to provide the student with the diploma but it should have been done the following week and at the school. Again I feel Mr. Farrelly put Mr. Harris life in danger when he was told to deliver the diploma to the student’s home.

In my closing, I am trusting and believing along with other stakeholders that I have been in contact with we that this school board will issue the best disciplinary action that will apply to Mr. Harris. All we are asking for is this board to do the right thing and to make sure that whatever come out of the graduation mess and the suspension of Mr. will be a learning experience for the student who broke the rules, the student that grades are in question per the rumor mill and Mr. Craig Harris disciplinary action.

Board members Evelyn Wilson Chair (BF), Ann Kent Vice Chair (WF), Dr. Evelyn Johnson (BF), Olga Dickens (BF), Marva Scott (BF), William Dino Eason (WM) and Rev. Raymond Privott (BM) I look forward to you doing the right thing.

Thanking you in advance.

Curmilus Dancy II
Stakeholders – Retired Educators, Current Educators and Community

Note: I have a lot going on and if you have any questions due to grammatical errors or any content in the letter please contact me for clarity.

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