Glenn Hills High School Principal Wayne Frazier, one of the most outspoken and well-known principals in Augusta, was transferred to an interim-principal position at Tubman Education Center on Thursday, with school officials offering different reasons for the switch.
Some said the transfer was because of poor test scores at Glenn Hills while others stressed the need for Frazier’s expertise at the struggling alternative school.
Superintendent Frank Roberson said it was because of both.
“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “It’s a matter of trying to put people in the system where their skills are accepted and exemplary.”
The Richmond County Board of Education unanimously approved 8-0 the transfer at a called board meeting Thursday, with Eloise Curtis and Venus Cain absent.
Roberson said school officials will decide within a month whether the position should be changed from interim to permanent.
Frazier has been known for his aggressive and unorthodox approaches to school reform.
He has said he believes if educators focus on emotional support for children growing up in neighborhoods with poverty, crime and broken homes, higher test scores will follow.
In 2010, he required all employees, from custodians to teachers, to mentor at least one student, which entailed things such as home visits and trips to high school football games.
In April, Frazier requested a later start time for Glenn Hills for the 2012-13 year, which he said would improve attendance and attention in class for students who struggle with early mornings.
The request never made it to a school board meeting agenda for a vote.
Roberson said several teachers complained to school officials about Frazier’s style over the past year. He said at least 12 teachers, mostly in the math department, left the school because of the environment Frazier created.
In 2012, just 7 percent of Glenn Hills students met or exceeded standards in Math II and 16 percent passed Math I, according to scores presented to the board last week by math coordinator Shelly Allen.
Board member Jack Padgett said with such low scores, a school such as Glenn Hills, which is a recipient of the federal School Improvement Grant program to turn around the bottom 5 percent of the nation’s schools, needs different leadership.
“Something needs to change,” Padgett said.
But Frazier said the poor performance is not a simple fix and can only improve with continuing change to the culture and makeup of the school.
“All the teachers who left are teachers who I would not have put in front of my own children,” Frazier said. “I was aggressive in having them moved or asking them to move.”
Frazier has been with Richmond County schools since 1996. He became principal at the now closed Tubman Middle School in 2008, and the school then made Adequate Yearly Progress standards for
the first time, Frazier said.
He took over Glenn Hills, a school struggling with discipline problems, gangs and poor academics, the next year.
In 2010-11, Glenn Hills increased its graduation rate by 7 percentage points to 86.1 percent, making it the school with the highest graduation rate of all the 40 schools in Georgia receiving the School Improvement Grant.
Roberson said Frazier made drastic improvements during his first principal position in the alternative school from 2003 to 2008, and his expertise is needed there again as the school struggles with discipline and academic problems.
Despite the accomplishments, the superintendent said a school has to have harmony among staff, which might have been missing at Glenn Hills.
“You can’t just simply
ignore (complaints),” Roberson said. “It affects the culture.”
On Thursday, the board approved Charles Givens Sr., the assistant principal at Glenn Hills, to become interim principal.
Frazier said he will look at the switch as an opportunity to help more children be successful, especially ones coming from tough environments.
“Wherever I go, I’m going to do what’s best for the children,” Frazier said. “It’s not the children’s fault. This kind of stuff happens. Like I told Dr. Roberson: Where I come from, if the bosses say ‘You work here,’ that’s where you’re going to work. If
you decide you’re not going to do it with class or with your head up high, you need to go.”
Frazier guarantees that on the first day of classes Aug. 13 he will have a smile on his face, welcoming the students.