American Renaissance

Annapolis High Principal Removed

Official’s Approach Alienated Parents

Nelson Hernandez and Darragh Johnson, Wash. Post, Mar. 18

The embattled African American principal of Annapolis High School was removed from her post yesterday after months of emotional debate that pitted middle-class white parents against black community leaders.

Deborah Hall Williams, appointed less than a year ago to address the school’s academic and disciplinary problems, was reassigned to an administrative job by Anne Arundel County Superintendent of Schools Eric J. Smith. Despite Williams’s “heroic” efforts, Smith said, a consultant’s study had convinced him that she had not done enough to ensure the safety of her students or gain the support of staff and parents.

Williams, reached at her home by telephone yesterday, hung up as soon as a reporter identified himself. A friend who had spoken to her said she was “very, very upset” about the decision.

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Yesterday, he said his decision to remove Williams came after an investigation into the physical and sexual assault of a student last fall on the school athletic fields, during the school day.

When the Department of Child Services investigated, it reported to Smith in January that the case “raised questions about the general supervision at Annapolis High School,” Smith said. The worries, he said, “raised a huge flag for me.”

He ordered members of his staff to make inquiries, and they, too, returned with reports that students still were in the halls when they should have been in class, still cursed at teachers and fought each other in classrooms. Others noted that a growing Latino population was creating a new racial dynamic at the longtime half-white, half-black school, and that fights between Latinos and African Americans were on the rise.

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