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Parents, Alumni Upset Over Changes At Hillside High School

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DURHAM, N.C. — Three members of the Durham school board are expected to meet with the superintendent Thursday in the hopes of preventing some staffers from having to reapply for their jobs.

Superintendent Ann Denlinger recently sent letters to two dozen support staff informing them that they will have to reapply for their jobs. Denlinger said the staff changes will improve academic performance.

The school board said the move is necessary to make a systematic change at Hillside and get the school headed in the right direction.

Many say the changes at the school are not good for the staff or the students.

Wednesday night, more than 100 parents, students and alumni packed a meeting to air their concerns about the administraive changes and the news that students will be getting another new principal -- the third in three years.

Last year, students and parents packed meetings when the school board announced it was replacing principal Richard Hicks. The well-liked principal was reassigned after allegedly changing a football player's grades.

Known for his no-nonsense approach, Henry Pankey took over at Hillside last summer. Last week, Pankey resigned to take a job in New York.

Last week, the school board announced Eunice Sanders will be Hillside's new principal.

Those at the meeting said they want consistency in leadership at the school and they think the changes need to start with the school board.

"We have a problem here that needs to be addressed by us. Our kids need to advance," Hillside alumnus James Brown said.

"I'm a proud graduate of Hillside High School and I am concerned about what ids happening with that school," said Regina Bowden, school board vice-chairman.

Those at the meeting said they are considering circulating a petition asking for some members to resign.


Len Besthoff