Tunica students walk out over firing of principal

TUNICA, Miss. — More than 200 students at Rosa Fort High School Tunica took to the streets Thursday  morning, upset over the recent firing of their principal, Derrick Dace.

Dace was principal at the school for four years until he was fired Wednesday,  a move the Tunica County Schools superintendent made to eliminate what he called “mediocrity” at the high school.

Thursday morning, students started their protest at the school’s gym on Highway 61, and then decided to march a mile and half to the school district’s office near downtown Tunica.

“We want Dace…we want Dace…we want Dace,” students chanted.

Hundreds of students from Rosa Fort High School stood outside the Tunica County School District office, braving the heat to voice their support for former Principal Dace.

Damien Jackson is a senior and school president of Rosa Fort High.

“We love our principal.  He does everything he can for us and we’ll do anything we can for him.  And I called him yesterday and I said, ‘Coach, we got to do something about it.’ He didn’t want us to do anything, but I told him we have to,” said Jackson.

Students also made it known they’re not happy with Tunica County Schools Superintendent Steven Chandler.

“Chandler has to go…Chandler has to go…Chandler has to go,” students chanted.

Chandler said his decision to fire Dace was based on continued poor academic performance at Rosa Fort High School.

“We have a high school that is currently in year three of ‘priority status,’ which means that it went three consecutive years with a graduation rate below 60 percent,” said Chandler.

Among the students Thursday morning were many adults arguing the fired principal actually made some progress toward improving the school’s rating.

Robert Hall, a retired Tunica County school teacher, said, “Last year we were a failing school, an F. This year we came up to a D and they fired the principal. So that’s just sort of the final straw. The kids are upset.”

Chandler said the slight improvement was nowhere near what he expected from educators at Rosa Fort.

“Going from an F to a D in a four-year period is not impressive. It is not helping children,” said Chandler.

Tunica police, Tunica County deputies and several officers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol stood by while students staged their protest, but made no attempt to stop them as long as they remained peaceful and stayed within the area designated for their protest.

Some students told us they would continue their protest until Dace is reinstated.

But Chandler said that won’t be happening on his watch.

“I make no bones about it, I’m here to tear down the ‘good ole boy’ system and build up a system of high expectations,” said Chandler.

The superintendent met with students and told them  he respects their right to peacefully protest, but reminded them that should they choose to stay out of school during their protest, they will be considered truant after 12 days of absence.

27 comments

    • Gary

      You got that right with a D rating must have some real dummies there ,no matter how good the system is when you got people who are incapable of doing any better there isn’t much you can do.

  • Ellen

    They were an F. They have made gradual progress in bringing up the test scores. How can they bring up the scores when the superintendent dictates EVERY SINGLE aspect of the day to day. This system has been damaged by the frequent turnover rate and the BS from this crazy superintendent. This is a long time coming!

  • Singh

    We’ll give the reporter and/or editor of this internet version of the story a “D” as well. From reading it, I cannot tell just who this Dace character is—is he a principal or a superintendent? Perhaps you “grajooated” from this very same school? If so, perhaps this guy getting fired is justified.

  • Lucy

    Rosa Fort had an “F” rating three years ago. Please check the facts. Do not believe the hype. Verify this on the MS Department of Education website. It is public knowledge. For the past 2 years, Rosa Fort High School has achieved a “D” rating. They are making slow and steady progress because Mr. Dace stands up to this superintendent. That is why he was fired. This principal (and every other principal in this county) are not allowed to lead their schools according to research-based best practices. This superintendent mandates the use of practices in ways that are contrary to research on teaching and learning. Dace has a track record of standing up to this superintendent. That is why his school is making slow and steady progress. That is also why he was fired. The truth will come out. Talk to residents of this county before you rush to judgment.

    This superintendent uses fear, half-truths, and manipulation to run this district. When he took over, the district was rated “Successful.” It is now “Failing.” This information is public knowledge and can be verified by reading state department reports that are available to the public. There has been much sloppy “reporting” about the “effectiveness” of this superintendent. Check your facts before you report and comment. The residents that lovingly supported and elected this Tunica native for superintendent regret those decisions.

    • Ms i

      Mr. Goldstein watch what u say never relax around blacks with that name r you one that can talk we came to america unwilled how did u get here.

      • Red

        Is that English, Ms I? You sound handicapped. Although, judging from your comments consistency, that’s about par for the course..

  • LMAO

    WOW
    EVEN THE YOUNG ONES ACT THIS WAY..
    THEY LEARN IT FROM SOMEWHERE
    ” WE GON DO WHATS DA DO”
    THEY WILL BE STEALING STUFF AND SMASHING WINDOWS NEXT..WATCH…
    POLICE GET YOUR GAS MASK READY
    THEY WANT TO BE TREATED EQUAL YET CONTINUE TO ACT LIKE “WILDLIFE”

  • Ms i

    This isn’t. A bash blacks seminar the school is failing have been for years there’sto much money in TUNICA county for the school to remain the same as 30 years ago in teaching our children I am a product of that system was a student and honor grad the reality is when our children goes off to college the feel like they have been deprived and the have I say let’s leave chandler alone and pressure him in providing a quality education better yet let’s test the children and see what the coach had taught them that will help them in college not how to play basketball I know some great high school players that could have went pro but was ad dumb as a door knob chandler needs to stop and take a look at himself and also the parents need yo stand with the children in getting the education they deserve not talking over someone because they like them so what it looks like to me a lot of people talking and saying nothing where are you child that graduated from rosa fort in the past are they still in college or did they drop out have any one looked a the % of the ones that made it and how many years it took them to obtain a degree.support dace all u want the fact remain the same whether a d or f rating not impressive and don’t make yourselves look the more ignorant auguring the facts any way u put it. The schools are failing to educate our children.

    L

  • Logan

    The MS Dept of Education issued a 31 page report on the Tunica County School District in Jan 2014. I am certain that the Superintendent does not want this report released to the public or news media. The school district failed in every category that it was measured . The Supt. is the head of the school district so when will he accept his responsibility for the failing of the schools. He uses tatics to try and blame the former Supt. for the downfalls but he has been in leadership over 2 years. If he was such a strong leader, we would have progress at all our schools. This has not happened to date. The news media needs to get a copy of this report to see what is really going on in Tunica County School System.

    • Ginger Grace

      I have a copy of the report…… it speaks of retaliation and unethical behavior from the superintendent.

    • Chandra Coleman

      First of all, you are out of line. What does these ‘below the belt’ accusations have to do with the school failing or anything else for that matter? You sound ignorant and cowardice. Let me guess… you graduated from Rosa Fort didn’t you? I agree that things have to surpass mediocrity. These kids deserve an education like private school children have. Just because a man is likable doesn’t mean that he is capable to do his job. From the article, the only rebuttal is that the principal goes out of his way to help them. Well, make him a counselor. Excuse the superintendent for wanting his children to become more in life than fast food workers. So give me facts about the superintendent not doing his job at his desk! We could care less about what/who he does behind closed doors. I’m sure you are doing far worse.

  • Cityisajoke

    So if these students can walk out and voice their opinion, why not group up and for a study group. Since their principal is so important. Help the man keep his job by doing what u need to do#!!! Simple solution. ….

  • Kim

    It is a shame that people on this comment section have taken this cry for order from a student body as an opportunity to express their racist views. Those students used their right to peacefully assemble and voiced their frustration over the superintendent of their district making personal decisions that affect personnel. How dare you belittle their actions and call them racist, derogatory names. It is the reason so much disdain in our society exists because of the very statements expressed here today. I, for one, applaud the efforts of the students and just ask them to ensure that they expose the superintendent for the liar that he is, and prove him wrong by doing good, raising test scores, and graduating.

    • James Muhammad

      United States has one of the highest high school dropout rates in the world. If the United States of America have the dropout rate in the World, how can a school system in Tunica, Ms scapegoat a Principal for the failed efforts of the USA School system? Where is your State mandated P-16 program?

  • Ginger Grace Chandler

    How can a Superintendent who secretly had a baby by his secretary throw stones? Bernard Chandler had a baby by his secretary Shernina Carter. If you check you will find that Ginger Grace was born this past summer to the pair. This is a violation of the Code of Ethics. Who will finally hand this man his pink slip?

    • Chandra Coleman

      First of all, you are out of line. What does these ‘below the belt’ accusations have to do with the school failing or anything else for that matter? You sound ignorant and cowardice. Let me guess… you graduated from Rosa Fort didn’t you? I agree that things have to surpass mediocrity. These kids deserve an education like private school children have. Just because a man is likable doesn’t mean that he is capable to do his job. From the article, the only rebuttal is that the principal goes out of his way to help them. Well, make him a counselor. Excuse the superintendent for wanting his children to become more in life than fast food workers. So give me facts about the superintendent not doing his job at his desk! We could care less about what/who he does behind closed doors. I’m sure you are doing far worse.

  • concernef

    I am concerned. I need to make these words large so that even Mr. Chandler can understand. I deduct from this comment that Mr.Chandler has had several sexual relationships with countless of former and current female employees. But, the only proof of these unethnical relationships is the baby that he had with his former Secretary.

  • Concerned

    Steve has put our District in turmoil. I am very proud of the students. They are doing something we adults have failed to do: stand up and fight this injustice. Steve has run away many administrators, teachers and other personnel. His actions has caused the District to have many lawsuits. Needless to say, many of the people who went to court against the District have won. The District will fail as long as Steve is allowed to run it through intimidation. I am sad for the teachers who want to speak out; however, are afraid of the retaliation which could leave them jobless.

  • Concern Citizen of Tunica

    Steven Chandler is also in a sexual relationship with the principal of Tunica Elementay, Eva McCool O’Neil. He fought long and hard for her to get a principal position for her in the school district.

  • Red

    Hahahaha blacks aren’t lazy? Hahahaha what planet do you live on? Blacks didn’t build this country either. Slave labor in ~10 states doesn’t count. Blacks don’t have the mental capacity to create something as large as the US, look at Africa; still in the Stone Age.

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