Guidance counselor gets job back after protest

The sidewalk in front of Memphis City Schools headquarters became a protest line Monday morning.
The sidewalk in front of Memphis City Schools headquarters became a protest line Monday morning.

(WMC-TV) - The sidewalk in front of Memphis City Schools headquarters became a protest line Monday morning.

Parents and students from Grahamwood chanted and waved signs expressing their support for their guidance counselor, Dr. Daycia Smith.

"We're protesting Dr. Smith's removal from Grahamwood, but really we're here in support of Dr. Smith, and our ultimate goal would be that she would have the ability to stay at Grahamwood," Berkeley Burbank said.

Smith was among 33 teachers who were let go recently under a process know as surplussing. Monday, parents at the protest said say surplussing gives teachers with higher seniority opportunities to move into jobs of employees with lower seniority.

"When we decide we're going to base the person - the decision - on who's going to be in front of our children based on seniority, and not based on quality, we're undercutting the educational experiences of our children, and it has lasting effects," said Mark Sturgis of Stand For Children.

Parents at the protest have started a petition to try and make a case for school administrators to give Smith her job back.

"I think the 'devil's in the details' when you have somebody who's performing highly in their position, and then somebody else in sort of an outside process, not through a normal hiring process, comes through and gets that position," Burbank said.

The protest may have worked. Late Monday morning, protesters and members of Stand For Children met with Regional Superintendent Kevin McCarthy and worked out a deal that allows Smith to remain at Grahamwood.

"I feel that if parents and students want to make a difference, they can make a difference," said Ginny Burbank, whose child attends the school.

Stand For Children said the key to getting Smith's job backed was a deal in which the school's principal used federal title one money to fund her position. As a result, Grahamwood will have two guidance counselors this year.

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