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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas school board irked by Jamerson parents

11

September

At last night's school board meeting, Pinellas parents continued to protest a proposal to break the feeder pattern from Jamerson Elementary to Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle.

A fourth-grader even took the podium, pausing nervously as she told the school board that she was a gifted student who wanted the challenge she knew Thurgood Marshall would afford her. (School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook helped the girl through her nerves, telling her to talk as though she was addressing a friend.)

But the arguments brought forward by the Jamerson parents irked the school board. The proposal would have Jamerson students feed into both Azalea Middle School and Bay Point Middle School.

Parents said they wanted quality options for their kids and did not believe Azalea and Bay Point to be up to snuff quite yet. Thurgood Marshall is an A-rated school, while Bay Point earned a "C" last year and Azalea was an "F."

More parents signed up than could speak before the meeting, so it was later on that the board addressed their comments.

"It really bothers me just as one board member when parents talk about other schools as if they're not successful," Janet Clark said. "Any time I hear someone talk about the lack of success at the other schools, it just digs a bit. It makes me a little less thoughtful in my listening."

Clark said her own child had attended Bay Point Middle. "You might not be pleading your case as well as you could be by mentioning [Azalea and Bay Point] in a derogatory way."

Linda Lerner agreed with Clark, saying she had confidence in the principals at Azalea and Bay Point and dubbing them "excellent schools." She pointed the magnet program at Bay Point and a new program starting at Azalea.

"I can say from experience, when this district has started a career academy or magnet, we do it well," Lerner said.

A few parents said they had tried to tour Bay Point Middle, but had been rebuffed by the principal. School board member Peggy O'Shea said that may have more to do with the busy start of the school year than any actual tension.

Thurgood Marshall is considered one of the best middle schools in the district. A fundamental school, it draws students through a countywide lottery. While the school board said Jamerson parents could still enter their children in the lottery, parents decried their slim chances in the lottery.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 11:12am]

    

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