Troup NAACP calls for Superintendent Brian Shumate’s resignation

Published 1:53 pm Friday, July 7, 2023

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The Troup County branch of the NAACP called for Troup County School System Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate to resign Friday during a press conference at LaFayette Square.

Glenn Dowell, education chair for the NAACP, said that there had not been enough progress in the 98 days that have passed since the organization’s last press conference in March where he stopped short of calling for Shumate’s job. Dowell referenced new data that has been released in that timeframe from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Georgia Department of Education, but he did not get into specifics.

The LaGrange Daily News found 2021-2022 data from the National Center for Education Statistics but nothing for 2022-2023, and Georgia Milestone scores are typically released from the Georgia Department of Education each August. New Milestone scores have not been released publicly yet in 2023.

“We are at the bottom 50% here in the state of Georgia,” Dowell said. “I think we are way on the lower scale when it comes to our measurements with other schools, but 26% performance in math and 29% performance in reading. Something is wrong with that. So yes, he’s had enough time. And what has happened since then is that we have new data that validates that he should have been gone a long time ago.”

Shumate called the situation “unfortunate.”

“We have a lot of great things going on in the school district that we are working hard to improve, and I think we are going to see results in the near future,” Shumate said.

The NAACP also referenced discipline practices that it believes negatively impact students of color, using one particular incident as an example where a female Black student was expelled after throwing a phone.

Attorney Andrew Lampros, who represented the student, said he believes that race played a factor in the decision.

“We have a White teacher, who is the alleged victim,” Lampros said. “We have a White majority board of education, and we have a Black student. Three and a half years expulsion for an accident? I don’t know another explanation.”

Dowell also said repeatedly that families who are able are sending their students to the higher rated Heard County School System, but when asked for specific data he said he did not have that information. Heard County’s GMAS scores are higher than Troup’s in reading and math.

The Troup County School System discusses enrollment numbers at every board meeting. They fluctuate from month to month but since Shumate was hired in summer 2019, TCSS’ enrollment numbers have increased. In May 2019 — two months before he officially took over as superintendent — TCSS enrollment was 11,999. In May 2023, that number was 12,080, according to school system data.

“We understand some of the frustrations of our constituents, however please understand that the Troup County School System is committed to educating ALL students and that we are on a path of continuous improvement,” Shumate said in a statement. “We are fully aware of lagging test scores for a number of years and are working diligently to improve in all areas. Since the pandemic ended, we have embarked on a rigorous academic improvement plan and recently concluded our 2023 GMAS assessments and the preliminary results are very promising. We will improve in most all tested areas, but the final data will not be released by the state of Georgia until August. I want to thank all of our students, teachers, principals and support staff for all of the work they have done to make these improvements and I look forward to the good things to come!”

In August 2022, when the last batch of Georgia Milestone scores were released, TCSS closed its gap on the state of Georgia average score in many categories — including in 8 of 10 tested categories in both elementary and middle schools — but also saw the high school gap increase in 4 of 5 categories. Forty-one percent of TCSS third through fifth graders were not reading on grade level.

“For you to be a superintendent, where your schools are failing, one of the things you should do is to make sure you use your staff development,” Dowell said. “That’s why it’s there … They go to school during the summer. I used to teach staff development during the summer … This superintendent does not have a plan as far as I can tell … If it had been known that he was planning to do this and this and that, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.”

Shumate said TCSS is holding a three-day learning conference for all TCSS teachers July 25, 26 and 27.

The NAACP also referenced the LaGrange Police Department in its press conference, noting the May resignation of four officers who were being investigated. The March press conference had asked for changes within the LPD as well.

“The new police chief appears to have taken the position of holding his officers accountable to the community which they serve,” NAACP President Mike Merideth read as part of a statement. “His job is not complete.”

Merideth said the Troup County NAACP has no less than 50 members, noting the organization is about to start ramping up its recruitment.