LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Support continues for Louis Gordon, the Tanner High School principal placed on paid leave earlier this week.
Thursday, a group gathered publicly for Gordon, concerned about the action taken by Tom Sisk, Limestone County Superintendent. While Sisk says the move to place Gordon on paid leave was made in the best interest of students, faculty, and staff while they work to investigate the "climate" at the school, Gordon's supporters say it was unfair to the principal.
"What Dr. Sisk did by calling a press conference to announce that Mr. Gordon had been put on administrative leave left a perception that he had did something wrong," some said at a Limestone County NAACP news conference.
Wilbert Woodruff, President of the Limestone County NAACP, said, "I pray that they immediately place Mr. Gordon back in Tanner High School and allow to return to his principal job there." He wants to see the principal's contract renewed, too.
The NAACP says a staff member threatened Gordon, and a teacher was recorded criticizing him and attempting to influence students against him.
"From the time that Mr. Gordon was named Principal at Tanner, there was a group of people associated with the school. They think that they own the school," he explained.
Woodruff contends that Gordon is a good man and good for all the students at Tanner High School. Some students who support him recently walked out of class in a show of support.
In a previous statement from Supt. Sisk, he stated that being placed on leave is not an admission of guilt.
"It is a common practice we have employed in the past. It is in the best interest of the district and the employee to remove them from the situation while conducting the investigation," he stated.
Below you'll find the full statement from the Limestone County NAACP:
On behalf of the Limestone County NAACP and the Alabama NAACP State Conference; we firmly denounce the recent actions of our school Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk who placed Tanner High School Principal Mr. James Gordon on paid leave.
Based on our assessment of this matter we have determined that there is absolutely no justification for the actions of Superintendent Sisk. Further, there was certainly no reason for him to call a press conference and announce his actions publicly. We have concluded that his actions were inappropriate, and very alarming.
We have monitored and have been concerned when the decision was made to hire Mr. Gordon because of some outrage and inappropriate behavior of some who had another person in mind for the position. In spite of the publicly dissatisfied few, Dr. Sisk and the Board had the courage and decency to vote for the best person for the job. According to our assessment, immediately after Principal Gordon’s hiring the harassment started. Frivolous and ridiculous complaints were filed with the Superintendent, and on occasion with the State. Any and ALL complaints have been baseless and unproven.
Recently a custodian who is employed at the school made a threat against Mr. Gordon’s life. Based on our assessment, the threat was not handled properly by Dr. Sisk and others. The codes and locks to the school were not changed immediately. Keys were not immediately retrieved from the employee. However, when Mr. Gordon was placed on immediate administrative leave, his keys were retrieved and the locks/codes were changed immediately. Superintendent Sisk stated in his press conference that his decision to place Mr. Gordon on administrative leave was for the protection and safety of students and the Community. Of the two, who was the obvious threat to the students and Community?
Another recent incident involved a teacher at Tanner High School who was recorded bashing Mr. Gordon in the presence of students and showing students a video to influence them against Mr. Gordon, the video has been widely seen in our community.
Even though the custodian has been placed on leave and the teacher may have or may not be investigated, no press conference was called by Superintendent Sisk. What we have clearly assessed is that Dr. Sisk and others have decided to punish, defame, and humiliate Mr. Gordon publicly rather than deal with those who are causing the problems. Obviously Dr. Sisk and others have succumbed to the desires of those originally in opposition to Mr. Gordon. Even though Dr. Sisk has stated on numerous occasions to many that he knows no wrongs Mr. Gordon has done.
The leadership of Dr. Sisk and possibly the Limestone County School Board is in serious question. These individuals are supposedly leading the educational objectives and goals of this County, but this is clearly not leadership. They have offended, insulted, and disrupted students, parents, and this Community. We have concluded that Superintendent Sisk and possibly the Board do not have our children in their best interest. We stand by this statement because of the tremendous documented successes and accomplishments made by Mr. Gordon since his short stay at Tanner High School, a failing school.
We are calling on Dr. Sisk and the Board to:
- Immediately allow Mr. Gordon to assume his duties as Principal at Tanner High School.
- Do whatever is necessary to put a stop to the harassment of Mr. Gordon and insure his safety so he can continue to do the outstanding job he is doing.
- Uphold any and all policy in regards to punishment for the teacher who was videoed speaking negatively with students about Mr. Gordon.
- Follow procedure to the fullest extent when persons are wrong regardless of whom they are.
- Support Mr. Gordon as long as he is doing his job.
- Support Mr. Gordon’s efforts in continuing to get Tanner High School off life support and use his ideas to make improvements throughout the County school system.
- Renew his contract at the appropriate time.