DURHAM, N.C. — Monday's boycott of Northgate Mall in Durham is the latest in a summer-long saga over Hillside High School.
Protester Herman Davenport said the only connection between the mall and Hillside High School is that is where most of the students shop. Davenport said the protesters hope the pressure of lost revenue will force mall merchants to support them.
Protesters passed out cards with their demands on them. They are asking for former Hillside employees to be reinstated, the resignation of Durham school superintendent Ann Denlinger and school board chairwoman Kathryn Meyers, a commitment to follow school policy in the selection of principal and staff, modify future superintendents' contracts so that they will not conflict with school policy and guaranteed stability in the principal's office at Hillside.
The boycott is the latest manifestation of anger since Denlinger announced Henry Pankey would no longer be principal of Hillside. Denlinger also angered many by requiring staff members to reapply for their jobs at the high school.
"There is an elected school board that has abdicated its responsibilities and we are saying to the school board, 'Don't let this stupid superintendent run amok, wholesale transferring employees for no reason,'" protester Teresa El-Amin said.
Pankey's removal marked the second time in one year Denlinger replaced the school's principal over community objections. In May 2001, she picked Pankey to replace former principal Richard Hicks. Superintendent Denlinger did not want to talk about the situation last Thursday.
In a news release issued Friday, school officials said all administrative and staff members not chosen to return to work by Hillside's new principal, Eunice Sanders, can be placed in a comparable position in the school system.
Mall officials released a statement Monday, stating Northgate does not participate in community issues that would have a polarizing effect on customers and merchants. The statement also states the mall has 10 businesses owned by blacks.