February 21, 2011 | by Georgetown Saucer
Photo by The Georgetown Dish
Hardy Middle School students and parents braved the chilly, drizzly weather and demonstrated at the Wilson Building on President’s Day, holding signs and chanting for the reinstatement of Patrick Pope -- the long-time principal removed by Chancellor Michelle Rhee last year -- and the restoration of the arts and music program for which the middle school was known.
"Please, Mayor Gray, we believe you will help us," read one sign. "Mr. Gray, Mr. Pope cares. He always puts the children first," said another. Some of the signs showed children crying. "Please help us," one said.
Mia Pettus, a leader of the group, said the demonstrators were asking for Mayor Vincent Gray's attention to four areas: 1) lack of effective leadership at the school since the replacement of Hyde-Addison principal Dana Nerenberg by former Montgomery County principal Daniel Shea, 2) dismantling of landmark arts and music programs developed under Pope that earned the school a reputation for excellence, 3) restoration of the former schedule that allowed for more time for teaching music and art and other “laboratory” courses, and 4) safety and securityfor students. Pettus, who lives in Takoma Park, said the group had presented these requests to representatives of the Mayor last month and believe “DCPS and now the mayor have turned their back on the children."
Other demonstrators expressed equally strong sentiments. Tannie Glenn, who lives in northeast near Ft. Totten and whose son Roderick Glenn II goes to Hardy, said: “We need our principal back.” Brenda Lawrence, another parent, has two nephews and one niece at the school. She said, “It’s totally different now [since Patrick Pope left]; the students are not working together with the teachers.”
On the way to his office, Councilmember Phil Mendelson (At-Large) spoke with thedemonstrators. Hardy has to overcome its “reputation for turmoil and instability over the last year…literally and perceptively,” he said.
The demonstrators believe restoring Principal Pope is the fastest way to end Hardy's ongoing turmoil. “We going to keep showing up…we have lots of ideas,” she said.