Teachers and parents of students at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Middle School in San Francisco’s Portola neighborhood gathered Tuesday afternoon to express their displeasure with what they called city’s negligence of the children there.
Coordinated by the United Educators of San Francisco, the group congregated to protest the current administrative regime in San Francisco, United Educators of San Francisco spokesman Allan Brill said.
In five years, Martin Luther King Middle School has had five separate administration changes, and the latest school runner, Principal Natalie Eberhard, has disposed of 17 teachers in one calendar year, Brill said.
“They continue to restructure the staff, but this school needs stability,” he said.
Brill fears the overturn of teachers is just the beginning at MLK.
“Someone high in the district may want to dismantle this school,” Brill said.
Many of the teachers removed from MLK had numerous years of experience, and were replaced by teachers with less than two years of credentials, he said.
“I fear they may turn this school into a charter school,” Brill said.
The United Educators of San Francisco disagrees with the direction the school is headed.
On Wednesday, the educator group plans to file a request to the Public Employment Relations Board to order the school district to rescind all involuntary transfers of those 17 employees removed from MLK in the past year, Brill said.
Brill said the request to the employment board stems from teachers being given poor evaluations from the current administration.
Many of the teachers have received nothing but great evaluations for several years prior to the Eberhard administration, he said.
Of the many alleged incidents, one was referenced numerous times, in which Eberhard, beginning her second year as school principal, restrained a female student by laying on top of her last academic year.
Several former MLK employees said they witnessed the incident, including former security guard Tobias Cain and former school secretary Nancy Folauoo, who spoke about it today.
Cain said he was injured after Eberhard and the girl fell on him, and he’s been “systematically harassed,” by the administration ever since.
Cain is on injury leave, which he says was forced on him by the current administration.
Folauoo, who had been working for the better part of three decades at the school, said she made a 911 call when she saw Eberhard lying facedown on the girl.
Folauoo said she was let go because she made the call.
Administrators have denied that incident ever occurred, according to Brill.
“How do you handle a situation where things happen and the administration denies all of it?” Brill asked.
What the protestors hope to gain is a new administration, which begins at the top, with the Board of Education, Brill said.
Norman Yee, president of the school board, has not commented on the recent uprising by MLK teachers and parents.
Brill said Yee has been “MIA at MLK.”
However, in a statement released today, the school district backed Eberhart, as well as her co-administrator, vice principal Anthony Braxton.
“The current principal … has made some great strides in improving systems and structures to support a safe school climate and student learning,” according to the school district.
But despite the differences in approach from both ends, the goal remains the same on both sides.
Dennis Kelly, president of the United Educators of San Francisco, said the administration must work with teachers to make MLK a better school for the kids.
The school district’s assistant superintendent of middle schools, Jeannie Pon, agrees with Kelly’s stance and said the district is working at creating a better school for the kids.
“We will continue to practice the five ‘Rs’–rigor, relevance, relationships, reflection and recommitment,” Pon said.
The five “Rs” will serve as a guideline to prepare students for the high school, college and professional lives, she said in the statement.