Allegations of Racism, Poor Leadership Fly at Elite Oregon School

Parents upset with the job being done by Metropolitan Learning Center’s African-American principal Macarre Traynham insist that their complaints have nothing to do with race, but rather with the principal’s leadership style, reports The Oregonian.

Traynham, principal of the elite Portland, Oregon school,  is trying to make executive changes such as cutting electives without the consent of the parents or district, according to the complaints. Parents also say the principal has been dishonest with students and does not understand the special culture within the non-traditional school.

Tempers  flared when parents received a letter from school superintendent Carole Smith, which suggested the complaints were generated by racist opinions.

“This conflict, however, is about more than just change,” Smith wrote. “It is about the experience of your school community with a strong leader who is also a person of color.”

Some parents are saying that the school is merely using a racism facade so that they do not have to do a thorough investigation. They believe that the school district should have used a meeting and not a letter, to address parents’ concerns. They accuse the school district of having a lack of curiosity into what really happened, writes the Huffington Post.

“If someone is being inconvenient for them, they can put a ‘racist’ label on that person and they don’t have to look into something,” parent Bruce Scherer said.

The school, however, takes a different view of the situation, as described in their letter to parents. Smith fully backs principal and has even recommended diversity classes for the upset parents. The district also claims that a thorough investigation was launched into parents’ complaints and that the principal was in full compliance with school district policies and rules. The school also went so far as to hire an outside investigator to look into the case.

“Parents seem to be used to a school where they make or contribute extensively to all decisions, administrative or otherwise and are now upset because Traynham is taking a strong leadership role in the decision-making process,” said Christina S. Tubb, an outside investigator hired by the district.

Tubb’s investigation concluded that there is a larger racial problem at the school.

However, a parent at the school, Dana Brenner-Kelley, claimed that the investigation looking into the case was a “sham.” She stated the investigator did not follow up with any key witnesses. She also believed the investigation report to be “retaliatory” because it gave out all of the complaining parents’ names.

The MLC has a history dating back more than 35 years and calls itself a “unique academic program focused on experiential learning, character development, service to its community and the pleasures of life and learning.”  It’s current enrollment is 460 students.