Friday, February 12, 2010

Hardy students protest loss of principal

More than 100 students, parents and teachers of Hardy Middle School took part in acts of civil disobedience to protest the reassignment of Hardy's principal Patrick Pope.
In an act of civil disobedience more than 100 students, faculty and parents boarded the No. 36 bus in Georgetown, Thu., Feb. 4, and traveled to the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest to demand a meeting with Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. The seventh-graders, with picket signs in-hand, "Hope for Pope" wanted to convince the Mayor to reverse District Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee’s directive to reassign Hardy principal Patrick Pope to another school.

"Everyone knows that Hardy is one of the best middle schools in DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] by anyone’s standards," said Hardy students Claire Keller and Jennifer Li, the group’s unofficial spokespersons.

"We have a superb arts and music program, top test scores and a strong academic foundation. For all of these components to work together and make a near perfect school we need someone to link them. Mr. Pope is that someone. Why change something that works perfectly? Why mess with the best?" the students said.

The uproar in the Hardy school community started Fri., Dec. 4 at a meeting with Hardy parents and Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee. During the meeting Rhee announced that Pope would end his 11-year tenure at the Ward 2 middle school in Northwest to lead a new state-of-the-art, arts middle school scheduled to open next year in a centralized location in the District. Dana Nerenberg the principal of Hyde-Addison Elementary School in Northwest would replace Pope. Nerenberg, who only has four years of experience as a principal, will run both schools simultaneously.

Rhee has been quoted as saying that she wants to make Hardy more attractive to neighborhood families and promised Key Elementary School parents that she would "turn" the school around during a private meeting with Georgetown parents in November. Neighborhood parents, Rhee insisted, were confused about whether or not Hardy was their feeder middle school because of the application process and arts program.

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