Still frustrated over the controversial ouster of teacher Mary Catherine Bradshaw, and the issues it raised, Hillsboro High School parents have waged a new battle: a recall effort to remove school board member Michael Hayes from his seat.
Whether the effort is symbolic or results in a genuine campaign remains to be seen. The group of Hillsboro parents has just 30 days from the time the recall initiated on May 24 to acquire petition signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in Hayes’ Green Hills-area District 8, which includes Hillsboro. The clock is already ticking to gather 6,301 petitions.
“Parents just needed to be heard,” said Paula Jennings, who’s active in the Hillsboro community. “It started with Mary Catherine, but it’s more of an acceptance of this program [The Academies of Nashville]. It’s more about coming into a school and not asking parents.”
Metro clerk Marilyn Swing said she’s not obligated to reveal the name of the individual who picked up papers earlier this week to initiate the recall. Several phone calls by The City Paper determined many Hillsboro parents have taken a collective ownership of the movement. If successful, it’s unclear who would square off against Hayes in a special election.
Hayes, who has taken the position that a board member’s role isn’t to delve into personnel matters, said he could not comment directly on the recall effort, in part because he doesn’t know who has triggered it.
“I read the petition, but have not been contacted by any of the petitioners or someone who they would expect or hope to run in my place, if they were successful in collecting the signatures,” Hayes said.
“I certainly don’t think I’ve been derelict in my duties,” he said.
Elected to the school board last year, Hayes has been caught in the middle of a clash between Hillsboro parents, students and faculty and Metro school administrators over the transfer of the school’s beloved International Baccalaureate coordinator Bradshaw, who is headed to Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School next year.
Most parents have pinned much of the blame for Bradshaw’s ouster on academies, the model of high school redesign in which career topics or themes form the basis of learning and instruction. Parents have targeted academies for allegedly disrupting the school’s successful IB program. School officials say Hillsboro’s IB program will still thrive.
On Thursday, some Hillsboro parents met with Hayes after he reached out to them. The gathering may have helped mend some ill feelings, with some calling it productive.
Hayes said much of the conversation centered on parents’ hopes to transform Hillsboro into an IB magnet school, a proposal they unveiled at a recent school board meeting.
“I listened to some of the reasons that they wanted to have a conversion,” Hayes said. “It was a couple of hours talking about how they view Hillsboro and where they would like Hillsboro to go.
“It was a productive conversation,” Hayes said. “I enjoyed, certainly as I’ve always enjoyed, having the opportunity to sit down with constituents and hearing their thoughts.”
If communications progress, the recall could be halted.
“If he’s willing to reach out to parents, then I think the group of people who are involved would be willing to withdraw the recall,” Jennings said. “That’s an easy thing to do.”
Councilman Jamie Hollin in 2009 waged the only successful recall in Metro history, collecting more than 1,000 petitions to hold a special election to remove Pam Murray from the council’s District 5 seat. In the special election, Hollin defeated Murray by two votes.