South Pointe students, parents, teachers question why principal ‘ripped’ from high school at school board meeting, no decision made

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -Parents are fighting for a Rock Hill principal to keep his job.

Earlier this month, we reported Doctor Marty Conner will no longer be principal at South Pointe High School. Dr. Marty Conner will remain in the school district, but news of his exit has not been sitting well with many families. A passionate school board meeting happened this afternoon.

WBTV learned from several people close to Dr. Conner that he did not want this move. So they feel like if they are against it and so is he, it is something worth fighting for.

A ‘we want Dr. Conner” chant erupted after South Pointe High School parents, teachers and students left the Rock Hill Schools Board of Trustees meeting. Before that, they filled the seats of the meeting, several choosing to speak on Dr. Marty Conner’s behalf.

”Students at South Pointe deserve stability and Dr. Conner has been that these last three years,” says one student, who talked at the meeting.

All agree about Conner’s impact. They say school interruptions, fights and expulsions have been down in double digit percentages since he has been there. Nine people signed up to speak. All of them calling to keep Dr. Conner at the high school.

”There is a petition that has garnered over 600 signs,” says another student. “The people have spoken and removing a leader such as him will be detrimental to our school.”

”We really hope and pray, PRAY that would all would make the right decision and return Marty Conner’s back to South Pointe,” says a parent.

Rock Hill Schools policy says the superintendent can reassign anyone based on the district’s best interest, but parents are questioning why the move happened in the first place.

”I’m trying to make sense of it trying to learn more about it,” says another parent. “And the last thing I want to say is I don’t know what’s going on but this just doesn’t smell right.”

What parents do know however is they do not want a new year without Conner.

”I am disheartened and fearful for the next three years my son will be here,” says one last parent.

”It’s not too late to change this,” commented another.

With the new school year right around the corner, a Rock Hill high school is changing leadership. WBTV News has learned Dr. Marty Conner will no longer serve as principal at South Pointe High School this fall. He has been principal since 2018.

Instead, he will be moving to a director of alternative learning position within the district, but there are still a lot of questions from parents and students about why he was being moved in the first place.

”It was just your typical high school before Dr. Conner came,” says Jalen Curry, a senior last year.

”He defeated the stereotype that it was just an athletic school by showing we could do more like extracurriculars and academics,” says Phillip Mickles, a senior.

Current and former students of South Pointe High in Rock Hill speak out after learning their beloved principal was moved to another school.

”It doesn’t sit well with me. I mean personally, Dr. Conner’s a role model,” says Mickles.

Phillip Mickles says he cannot imagine next year without Dr. Conner. Curry, a senior Dr. Conner’s first year, says if it were not for Dr. Conner, he would have never considered going to Morehouse for college.

”When Dr. Conner came South Pointe kind of came to life. It got more personality, and the colors were more vibrant,” says Curry.

The school district makes personnel decisions on who gets moved and to what position. An email sent to me from the district says moves like this are discussed with stakeholders, but Mickles feels they didn’t ask the right ones.

”You really have to be in the school to realize the effect Dr. Conner has on the students here,” says Mickles.

It is that very reason district spokesperson Lindsay Machak says he is getting the new job.

”He’s a beloved leader in our community and we think he’s gonna do great things over there,” says Machak.

Machak says Conner’s experience in another district made him the logical choice for this new position.

”Our motto is one team, one mission, one Rock Hill. And so this is all part of being in this team is that if we see a need to really enhance how we’re serving the needs in this community then we’ll fulfill that,” she says.

However, Mickles and Curry say to serve one community the district is taking from another.

”Keeping him there is one of the most crucial things the school district needs to do,” says Curry.

WBTV asked if Dr. Conner wanted to make the switch and was told the district could not discuss that since it was a personnel issue. This decision was a part of 20 position changes within the school district.

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