NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - An online petition urging the Nacogdoches school board not to renew Superintendent Sandra Dowdy's contract has obtained over 1,600 signatures.
That's according to the site, change.org. Signers feel the response sends a strong message to the district troubled by "improvement required" ratings.
Dowdy says it's a distraction to teaching and learning.
East Texas News heard from both sides Wednesday.
The petition's title is direct: Non-renewal of NISD Superintendent's Contract. Proponents say it was created …
"...out of desperation that the school board and superintendent were not listening to the concerns of the community," said Kimberly Dolese, a former NHS principal.
Among them is a fear of a second teacher mass exodus to other districts.
"They're adding a daily commute to their lives of thirty minutes up to an hour each way and taking a pay cut to leave NISD," said Heather Olson Beal, a parent and an education advisor.
Petition proponents hold Dowdy accountable for other concerns.
"Money that we're spending on 10 administrators at the high school and multiple other campuses," said Susan Teekell, a parent. "Why is that money going to administrators? Why is it not going toward the students?"
"Financial things that she needs to meet," said Mindy Winslow, a parent and an alumnus of NHS. "There's planning, there's communication, there's teacher retention. Our turnover rate is disastrous."
Until this week, Dowdy did not respond to the petition. Yesterday she sent out a staff letter. Her plea to teachers and staff is "that we stay focused on kids and we will win this situation."
Dowdy called the petition a distraction.
"It takes the teachers off focus," Dowdy said. "It takes the administration off focus because they're dealing with other things. Questions being asked."
Dowdy said Wednesday she won't be placed on the defensive, but she has rebutted the petition allegations to board members.
Dowdy prefers to focus on the district's victories during the last year and a half, which began with ISD ranking near the bottom in the state.
"We managed to get the district out of IR (improvement required) last year," Dowdy said. "We managed to get TJR out of IR. However, we've got Fredonia and Carpenter left. Fredonia is making great gains. We expect them to come out. We expect Carpenter to come out."
State testing for 2018 won't happen until April. Petition supporters believe Jan. 25 is too soon to consider extending Dowdy's contract.
"The contract doesn't end until June," Delose said. "Why would you add a year or three years to a contract that's not up yet and results aren't in yet?"
"It's the others. It's the principals. It's the staff members," Dowdy said. "They become leery. They don't know if they have a job. It scares them. Also for recruiting purposes. It's huge to know you got security or you got a stable district."
Dowdy is confident her contract will be renewed. Others wanting her out aren't so sure she's right.
Here is the text of Dowdy's letter.
On a related note, NISD announced that Nettie Marshall has been nominated as a Blue Ribbon School by the Texas Education Agency. Click here for the list.