Duplin residents protest against Doby
By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 4, 2009 1:46 PM
KENANSVILLE -- About two dozen people gathered in Kenansville early Monday morning in a show of protest against Duplin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Wiley J. Doby.
Some of the protesters carried signs saying "No Doby," and resident Rodney Scott and other participants handed out more of the signs during the Duplin County Board of Commissioners meeting later in the morning.
The group, Concerned Citizens for Duplin County Education, chose to protest Monday because the school board will decide the status of Doby's contract within the next few months, Scott said.
Doby's contract with the school system expires this year and the board must vote soon on whether or not to renew it.
The protesters are concerned about several issues regarding the superintendent, including claims of bad money management and a previous attempt to close the James Kenan High School's School of Engineering, Scott said.
"There's been a number of issues of mismanagement and poor use of county funds," he said. "I think our county could use a new superintendent."
Organizer Karen Scalf said that the group also is handing out flyers with the Board of Education members' phone numbers to encourage the public to call the board members at home and make their voices heard.
The group plans to appear at the next school board meeting wearing red shirts as a silent demonstration, she said.
"I feel like our county is in the red for educating our children. We deserve a lot better," Ms. Scalf said. "We feel like the efforts he's made in our county to improve the county education system have been negative."
She also expressed concern that Doby's leadership has created a poor work environment for teachers and staff in public schools, and produced expensive consequences for county taxpayers.
"We would like to make them (school board) aware of how taxpayers and parents of these children feel about his leadership, because there's a lot of teachers and employees of Duplin County school system that are not allowed to speak, and we feel like we should support them to the best of our ability," she said.
Protester Sonya Smith, a parent of three children in the Duplin County school system, said she had approached several school board members regarding concerns she had regarding school leadership, but never received a response.
"I said, I'm not going to sit back any more," Mrs. Smith said. "... Since he's (Doby) come to our county, there's been constantly a shadow of doubt."
And the school board members should also be scrutinized for their performance, she said.
Ideally, though, she would like to see the school system have a superintendent who would work more openly and willingly with the board members, the county government and with parents and teachers, she said.
"Our workforce is as frustrated as I have ever seen it, as far as our teachers," Mrs. Smith said. "They have done a great job, but what could they have done if they truly had his support? ... a leader has to have vision. He's not had that direction in my opinion."
Mrs. Smith also plans on being at the next Duplin County Board of Education meeting, which is scheduled from 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, but said she didn't know whether the board members or superintendent would respond to the group's concerns.
Calls to the superintendent's office and cell phone were not returned by press time.