Hamilton High students protest after principal removed from school

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Students held a peaceful protest outside of Hamilton High School Wednesday morning to get their principal back.

Former principal Monekea Smith was suspended back in December in connection with a grading scandal at the school.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said last month that there would be a zero-tolerance policy on grade tampering.

Shelby County Schools was made aware of the protest and provided extra security to keep everyone safe.

Students were outside for hours protesting against their principal's removal. Some even went inside for lunch, then went back out to continue protesting.

"If this is what we have to do to be heard, we'll do it," said senior class president Danyell McAdams.

McAdams and her fellow classmates want to know why their principal is no longer at the school.

"Nobody knows why she was pulled out, because he told me my reason was wrong so I mean, we don't know anything," McAdams said. "So we're just guessing."

Shelby County Spokesperson Natalia Powers said Smith was suspended pending a grade-changing investigation.

"Investigators had uncovered some grade discrepancies and the superintendent had recommended her removal from the schools," Powers said.

Students like McAdams are frustrated. She said there have been several principal changes at Hamilton in her four years at the school.

"How many more principals gonna come, how many more protests gonna have to happen for Hamilton High School students to be heard?" McAdams said.

Meanwhile, some parents said they're proud of the students.

"They are not fighting, they are not cursing, they are not being disrespectful to any adults - they are leading a peaceful walkout," said Teresena Wright with The Memphis Lift.

Meanwhile, school officials say they're working to get things back to normal sooner rather than later

"We're going to take it one step at a time," Powers said. "Right now, we're going to focus on addressing our superintendent will be listening to them and hopefully we don't have to repeat this because the last thing we want is for them to be missing out on the things that are really important that needs to happen at the school."

Students said they'll continue protesting every day until they get answers.

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