Shotwell advocates, foes bring 4 hours of public comment to Rock school board | News |

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Before the Rockingham County School Board meeting at Reedsville High School on Monday night, Beth McCasney of the Bethany community in Rockingham County stood in the rain with other Shotwell supporters. Before the meeting adjourned to Wednesday, the supporters and opponents of this supporter conducted four hours of public comment. 

REIDSVILLE — The Rockingham County School Board meeting on Monday night may have caused the most public comment ever. Dozens of parents, teachers, students, and NAACP members called for the restoration of Rockingham County School Principal Rodney Short Weir, because opponents insisted on a new direction for the county.

The board of directors listened to a three-minute public speech for nearly four hours before adjourning the meeting at 10 pm on Monday, and plans to resume normal board operations at 6 pm on Wednesday in the Reedsville High School Auditorium.

The RCS teacher has been working for 34 years. Penny Anderson Caple said that firing Shotwell constitutes a “reckless danger to our faculty and students”, and he emphasized that sustained leadership skills must be maintained during the pandemic.

Kapoor said at the regular monthly board meeting held at Reedsville High School that the board still owes the public an explanation for the dissolution of Shotwell. 

Kapoor said that the board’s surprise was that Shotwell was removed on December 14. He has been the district’s chief administrator for 15 years and was appointed as North Carolina’s annual supervisor in 2015. The teachers are afraid of the school board.

Kapoor said: "Some teachers are afraid to speak." Kapoor said that dismissing the Shortwell board without explanation is unethical.

The speaker’s common complaint: The four board members who voted against Shotwell did not call back citizens seeking reasons for the dissolution of Shotwell.

Kapoor said: "I called all of you more than 100 times and pointed out that taxpayers should be responded and justified," you work for us.

At least a dozen people agreed with Shotwell's shooting speech, including Diane Parnell, the head of the county's Republican Party.

Dr. Shortwell said: "Dr. Shortwell is a very attractive person. I have no problem with him. I believe everyone loves him, but we need to move in a different direction."

In the notice a few days before Christmas and 90 days, Shotwell's dismissal with 4 votes to 3 shocked the entire community. Shotwell’s supporters responded last month by organizing three press conferences to unite parents with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the County Democratic Party and post with the slogan "Bring Back Dr. S" Social media pages and lawn signs, and collected more than 1,600 petition signatures from opponents.

 After the closed-door meeting of the December routine meeting, the board members fired Shotwell by 4 to 3 votes, who oversaw the district’s $130 million budget.

The board of directors did not issue any notice or explanation about Shotwell's dismissal, and the members have refused to publish their defense to the media within a few weeks since the vote.

Board members Doug Eisley, Brenthuss, Bob Wyatt and newly-elected Vicky Alstom cast out Shotwell, while Kimberly McMichael, chairman and member of the board of directors, Rakestraw has recently leveled Wei Ki McKinney voted against the move at the Rockingham County High School.

Alstom, the vice chairman of the board of directors, was elected to the district 1 of the board of directors in November and she voted for Shotwell in her first meeting.

Before starting public comment on Monday night, Wyatt proposed a proposal requiring the board to reduce the time for each public comment from three minutes to two minutes because of the large number of people who wish to record their own voices.

The crowd in the auditorium opposed the move. The board voted against it 4 to 3. Alstom joined McMichael, Rakestraw and McKinney to support full-time.

Shotwell supporters insisted in their speeches on Monday evening that the removal of the commander could cost rural residents of 91,000 counties about $300,000 in expenditures, which the county cannot save. His contract is valid until June 30, 2022.

According to its contract dated August 13, 2018, the director’s current annual salary is US$161,795. The contract also includes a monthly life insurance allowance of US$300 and eligibility for an annual salary increase approved by the state, as well as 13 days off each year.

Shortwell always awards his annual bonuses to students who need financial aid from the university.

Marjorie Bell Williams, an official and county teacher of the Rockingham County Reedsville Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said her organization has always maintained solidarity with Shotwell's supporters. "We step up, not take a step back."

Williams called Shotwell a "conscientious" "man of integrity." She finally said: "Change your vote and restore Dr. Shotwell as the principal of Rockingham County School!"

Malcolm Allen of Ritzville, NAACP, said he doubted whether Shotway's strong replacement candidate wanted to work for a board that fired employees without justification.

"When you know what capabilities this committee has, which supervisor will come?"

Nick Herman of Chapel Hill, an attorney for the school's board of directors, said the board did not authorize him to discuss voting details or Shotwell's contract.

Starting in 2018, Shotwell has encountered opposition from Huss, Isley and Wyatt, because the system is a system of 2,100 employees. Teachers and employees provided equity training funds.

Proponents of fair training say that public schools have a poverty rate of 20.4%, educating thousands of low-income students at risk. 

 Shotwell supporter Melanie Hearp Morrison addressed the board of directors, emphasizing that Shotwell's success has greatly increased the county's graduation rate. Indeed, state education statistics show that since inauguration in 2006, the district’s high school graduation rate has climbed from 66.9% to 89.1% in 2020, exceeding the state average of 87.6% in 2020.

Statistics show that under the guidance of Shortwell, the graduation rate of economically disadvantaged students has more than doubled, from about 41% in 2006 to more than 80% in 2020.

Morrison, the mother of two RCS students, told the board that the community had “failed” and she was “disheartened” by taking Shotwell away. "I asked why, and 28 days later, I was still asking why."

But Parnell of the Republican Party said: "I also have statistics, and they don't match." Referencing Morrison's graduation rate, "Some things must change."

Parents and school volunteer Christopher Woods thanked Shotwell for his comments on the board and praised Shotwell for making culture and art a top priority for the region. 

Woods said: "He is a very responsible manager." For teachers who are struggling to switch to virtual learning during the pandemic, Shotwell is "the most powerful teacher advocate they have."

Ron Crowder talked about the importance of prayer and Christian faith in schools. 

Former RCS administrator Diane Hill, who appeared through Zoom, said that during her six years at Shotwell, she “did better than at any time in my career.” She is "the best director I have ever worked with," and she emphasized the wisdom of providing technical and vocational training for children.

Speaking to a regional television reporter in December to board member Alston, Hill said that the board is “developing in a new direction,” Hill said. “Please be careful not to move in this direction.”

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