The Superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District, Art McCoy, spoke publicly today for the first time about being placed on administrative leave by the school board on Nov. 6.
Last week the Missouri Department of Education said it had found “significant alterations” to 2012 student attendance data that was submitted in August, and that it will work with district staff to make the necessary corrections. The state factors attendance numbers into how much funding a district will receive.
McCoy said he had no knowledge of any district administrator who purposefully altered attendance numbers.
“I have no knowledge of any such thing,” McCoy said. “And I look forward of someone doing something of that nature. Their statement was a simple as saying a change was made.”
McCoy said the changes would have been made within a time frame allowed by the state and that he was given no reason for being placed on leave with pay.
Ferguson-Florissant has accepted the second most transfer students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens School Districts, and McCoy said that his handling of the school transfer process may have been a factor in the board’s decision.
“You know my goal was to educate each child and to make sure each child that we had got a full education,” McCoy said.
Before the news conference, McCoy spoke with the St. Louis Beacon, who reports McCoy said he has appreciated the outpouring of public support.
In a written statement, School Board President Paul Morris said he believed it had been made clear to McCoy why he was placed on leave. According to the statement, the school board continues to investigate numerous accusations, but because this is a personnel matter, no specifics can be given publicly. Morris has, however, said that McCoy's handling of school transfers had nothing to do with the board's decision.
Morris said that McCoy will be given a chance to respond to any allegations once the board’s investigation has been completed.
McCoy says the board won’t meet with him, while Morris says the board has received no such request from McCoy or his attorney.
Citizen’s Task Force on Excellence in Education held the press conference at Shalom Church, City of Peace in north St. Louis County, the same location where earlier this month supporters and students gathered to praise McCoy as an educator with unique skills to ensure African Americans succeed in the classroom.
State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis) said McCoy’s presence is critical to the district.
“We have had the opportunity to see children’s lights beam out their eyes because someone truly cared about them, now the lights are dimmed,” Nasheed said.
Below is the complete statement from School Board President Paul Morris:
As a school board, we want the community to know that we, too, are frustrated we can't say more on this matter. However, because this is a personnel matter, we are limited in what we can reveal. I want to emphasize that our decisions are ultimately being made with what is best for our students in mind. We share Dr. McCoy's passion in creating an educational environment with the success of all students as our goal.
As a board, we continue to investigate numerous accusations and are taking the time necessary to conduct a complete and thorough investigation in order to make the best possible decision. Once those investigations are complete, the Board will determine whether to bring Dr. McCoy back or terminate his contract. At that point, Dr. McCoy will be given the opportunity to either respond to the allegations in order to resolve them in the process of his return, or he will be able to address them at a board hearing as outlined in his contract. Since putting him on administrative leave, up until now, we have received no requests from Dr. McCoy or his attorney, to meet with the board.
Finally, despite what you may hear otherwise, I believe that it has been made clear to Dr. McCoy as to the reasons he is on administrative leave.
We know this is a hard time for our community. We hope to resolve it quickly and return our focus on the reason our district exists, the kids.
Follow Tim Lloyd on Twitter: @TimSLloyd