A Message From The Publisher
By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.
Does the Buck really stop here?
Impassioned members of the Deerfield Beach High School community met with Superintendent Vicky Cartwright to plead their case to select one of two candidates who they believe would be a good fit for their school.
Two candidates, Cristina Selvidge, a Hispanic female and Arnita Williams, a Black female, applied for the principal’s job at Deerfield Beach High School that became vacant when 15 year tenured principal, John Marlow, was promoted to a district level job a month ago.
There are a few phases to the selection process for principals. First the job is advertised with a deadline. Once the deadline passes, district staff reviews resumes to determine eligible candidates. A select few of the eligible candidates are then interviewed before a group of district administrators. From there, two or three finalists are sent to the school community to interview. The school community is comprised of parents, students, teachers, business partners and even some local politicians like the mayor. The school community interviews the two or three finalists and shares their individual and collective desires. Finally, the candidates move forward to the superintendent for a final interview and the superintendent selects a principal for board approval.
This is how the process is explained to the school community before every principal vacancy, but this didn’t happen for Deerfield Beach High School. Both Selvidge and Williams interviewed before the district committee, then advanced to the community interview and both subsequently interviewed with the Superintendent. Cartwright determined that she did not believe either of these women was a good fit to become a Deerfield Buck. But, instead of starting over, a very strange twist developed. It is uncertain if the former Deerfield High School principal, John Marlow’s district position was cut during Cartwright’s restructuring of the organizational chart, but Marlow, by choice or by force, has been uprooted from the district position and get this… he was recommended to the Board by Cartwright to reassume the position as Head Buck.
Community activist, Terry Scott, is in an uproar. Scott, a well-respected and longtime education activist in Broward’s north corridor, was very vocal about this decision and asserted that Cartwright not only owes him and the community an apology for the debacle, but she also owes Selvidge and Williams an apology. The community’s desperate pleas fell on deaf ears.
Scott attended Tuesday’s Board meeting and argued against Cartwright’s direct appointment of Marlow citing that it lacked transparency and did not involve the community. When Cartwright met with Scott earlier this month, Scott detailed that Deerfield Beach High School is approximately 40 percent Black and 20 percent Hispanic and that either of these women was more than qualified to represent the diversity of the students and families. Scott questioned the reason why Cartwright did not see that one of these minority women was qualified to be at the helm of the school.
But, Osh Kosh, “oh my gosh”. Cartwright didn’t apologize; instead, she took a page out of her Osh Kosh, Wisconsin playbook. While superintendent there, one of the biggest complaints against her was that she took credit for everything good and blamed her subordinates for all that went wrong. Cartwright pointed the finger of blame at Dr. Valerie Wanza, explaining that Wanza’s department is responsible for the preparation of assistant principals for the next level and Selvidge and Williams were ill-prepared to become the principal of Deerfield Beach High School.
On Friday, May 27th, Dr. Wanza sent a letter to the community alerting them that Marlow would be recommended by the Superintendent at Tuesday’s Board meeting to return to Deerfield. After Brother Scott spoke his truth, the Board tabled the approval until such time Cartwright meets with the Deerfield Beach community.
There are quite a few things to learn here. As Black people, we need to speak our truth to power. We cannot sit on the sidelines and complain about what is being done to us. Brother Terry Scott challenged the Board on its transparency. He further challenged the Superintendent on ensuring that the school’s administration reflect the diversity reflective of the community.
This is not anything against Mr. John Marlow. From all accounts that I have heard, he is said to be a great principal and is adored by the Buck community.
This is about respect. It is about transparency. It is about treating our schools and our communities the same way schools in other communities are treated.
There would be no direct appointment at Cypress Bay so why would there be at Deerfield, Ely or Dillard. Furthermore, being principal of a school for over a decade is something that needs to be looked at.
Marlow made a decision to leave Deerfield Beach High School for some reason or another. As grandmama used to say, “when someone leaves you, you should close the door and lock it”.
Since the Board tabled the approval of John Marlow as Head Buck and directed Superintendent Cartwright to meet with the community, I am begging my sisters and brothers to show up at this meeting and let your voices be heard from the mountaintop.
Show and Tell.
We will not be ignored. We demand our earned seat at the table. If you want our support at the ballot box for a Referendum, then we need your support in our communities for equity and respect for people of color.
The Westside Gazette is watching.