1500 turnout to support Supt.McCoy at meeting

F-F  Board Informs  State of Mo. of New Information  on McCoy Leave

By Bob Lindsey

District patrons including parent and community leaders packed the   Ferguson-Florissant Board of Education meeting Nov. 13  and voiced their vehement opposition to placing superintendent  Art McCoy on administrative leave. The meeting was moved to McCluer North in anticiption of the crowd, which was estimated at around 1500.

The board had voted  6-1 to place McCoy on paid administrative  leave citing “differences in focus and philosophy.”  Speaker after speaker asked the board for specifics on these philosophic differences. Board President Paul Morris reiterated that “personnel matters are keep confidential in the interest of maintaining employee privacy.”

On Monday, Morris sent a letter stating that the board “recently received information serious enough to require us by law to notify the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The state Department of Education (DESE) coordinates and regulates K-12 education. Upon receiving the information, DESE has notified us that they will be conducting an investigation.

This situation remains a personnel matter and is subject to board policy and state law prohibiting disclosure of details, Morris said. “We will share more information, if possible, from DESE when it becomes available.”

For almost two hours last week,, district residents  praised McCoy and his dedication to the students, demanded his reinstatement, and promised changes after the next school board election.  The current board is all white, while the majority who spoke on McCoy’s behalf were African-American.  Some felt race was a factor in the board action.

In a letter sent earlier in the day to staff and district residents,  Morris said the move was not “in any way “ racially motivated. “Let me say perfectly clear: The races of the board or of Dr. McCoy played absolutely no role in this decision. We have a strong commitment to diversity and equity.”

Morris said the board meet with St. Louis County NAACP, North County Churches United for Racial Harmony & Justice and its leader Rance Thomas and County Executive Charlie Dooley to discuss these concerns.

“It is our job to make sometimes very difficult decisions that are in the best interest of our students and we feel that we have upheld our responsibility  in the case,” Morris said. He added that  the board was  grateful for  Dr. McCoy’s contributions to the district,  and that the matter will be resolved soon.

Still the audience at the meeting wantedmore information as they cheered the various speakers who came to support McCoy. Among the comments that reflected the audience’s concerns were  that Dr. McCoy “accepted every  student as if they were his”  and “there is not a more dedicated person than Dr. McCoy. When it comes to the students…. he gets it.”

A former board member Chuck Henson who supports McCoy questioned whether the board can afford “to let him go.”

McCoy, 37, has been superintendent since July, 2011. McCoy has been with the  district since 1999. His salary was listed at $217,644 and  his contract  was renewed in April and  runs through June 2016.

McCoy has led the district is accepting 430 transfer students from two unaccredited districts and helped raise money to assist with transportation cost for the transferring students. He addressed the state legislature in September on the need for more comprehensive support for failing schools.

The district’s chief accountability officer,Larry Larrew, is  acting superintendent.


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