Moss Point Residents Have Mixed Feelings Towards Superintendent - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/17/05

Moss Point Residents Have Mixed Feelings Towards Superintendent

Amy Williams and Sandra Johnson say as they see it, Dr. Tressie Harper is the problem with Moss Point schools.

"There is fear. There's total fear," Johnson says.

"It's her way or the highway," Williams says.

They say Harper's leadership chases qualified employees away.

"My brother-in-law resigned his job to go and work in Baghdad, Iraq to get away from this woman," Johnson says.

"We've lost so many teachers, good qualified teachers," Williams says.

The news that the school board asked Harper to resign was news Johnson and Williams had waited to hear.

"I was so excited I couldn't hardly stay in my skin," Johnson says.

But not everyone was so excited.

"The people that fired her really don't represent the total population of Moss Point," resident Lonnie Hopkins says.

Hopkins, David Mathews, and Michael Stallworth are on the other side. They're some of Dr. Harper's supporters.

"It looks as though there's an ulterior motive behind it," Mathews says.

Harper's supporters say test scores clearly show she's doing her job.

"On the last report that came out...of what the state requirement was, we over exceeded that," Stallworth says.

"The criteria to fire a district superintendent should be based on what takes place in the educational realm, rather than personal motives or personal vendettas," Mathews says.

Stallworth says Harper's changes have made the schools better, but ruffled some feathers.

"You have people that have been set in places in Moss Point, prior to her coming, that had their own little dynasty. That'd gotten complacent in these spots. They didn't want change, but Dr. Harper made them change," Stallworth adds.

They say if Moss Point losses Harper, it will be a setback.

Dr. Harper did not resign Friday, as the board asked her to do. She says she plans on doing everything in her power to hold onto her position as superintendent of Moss Point School, including hiring an attorney.

School board president Mary Carter was unavailable for comment.

By Jaimee Goad

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