School Leadership Team faces new challenges

Mayah Kirson

To begin the 2015-16 school year, new principal Arlethea Williams is working with the School Leadership Team (SLT) to handle an unexpected tie in the SLT election for a two year parent seat followed by a sudden vacancy.

The SLT is a team of students, teachers, parents and administrators who strive to educate and address concerns for the community about the school. The team meets monthly and follows bylaws written alongside the City Schools of Decatur charter. These bylaws instruct the team how to operate.

Nia Schooler won the election, but a tie between Elizabeth Webb and Katie Pederson as runner ups called for a runoff election. Webb won the runoff making the two year parent seats official.

During the process, a second seat opened after parent Angela Starkey could not attend consecutive meetings. The SLT motioned and voted to release her from the position, left with an unanticipated vacancy.

The SLT bylaws do not explain how to replace a member halfway through their term, leaving the team to interpret the document. Without instruction, Williams and the rest of the SLT worked quickly to find a solution.

The SLT voted to offer runner up in the runoff election, Katie Pederson, the remaining one year parent seat. She declined, leaving the seat yet again vacant.

The team returned to the bylaws and reworked their plan.

According to SLT teacher member Jennifer Gonzalez, no election will be held. The team is appointing Randy Kirkendall, who is concluding his two year parent position, to the vacant seat.

Kirkendall accepted, balancing the number of new parent representatives with experienced members as recommended in the bylaws.

“It’s a pretty vague document, and intentionally so, because the purpose of the SLT is to help the school,” Gonzalez said.

She explains an assigned committee should annually review the bylaws to make edits, but the SLT never encountered a problem in previous years.

Williams agrees gaps in the bylaws need addressing. For Williams, being new as principal and  SLT member added another small challenge.

“I was still becoming acclimated and trying to get new members,” said Williams.

Regardless, she believes the team efficiently handled the situation and continues to do so.

The SLT is assigning a committee of at least two members to review these bylaws. They will revise the document to guide future teams on these issues.

As the parent seat is filled, the SLT is addressing other immediate issues such as Homecoming week and the school improvement plan.

“When the SLT has questions about what’s going on in the school, that’s when they usually ask Lauren and I,” says SLT student representative and Student Government Association co-president Nathan Tumperi.

Tumperi is looking forward to Homecoming and ensures the small struggles within the SLT have not impacted any plans.


Photo by Mayah Kirson