What Is North Atlanta High's Image and Reputation?

With the school constantly in the headlines now, what will be its future image?

North Atlanta High is featured in the headlines of local news outlets every week if not more often, because of the sudden recent firing and reassignment of its principal and other school officials and due to allegations of racism and grade-changing.

Now, the Buckhead Reporter has uncovered emails from Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel informing other board members that he intended to look into the allegations from parents about institutional racism at the school.

Former NAH Principal Mark MyGrant said he believed his sudden removal had to do with accusations of racism, but Superintendent Errol Davis said the reassignment of school officials was due to the struggling academics of the school.

However, some parents and community leaders point are concerned about the current condition of the school, with its poor academic performance and allegations of grade-changing. However, others point out that there are good things happening at North Atlanta.

What do you think? Is North Atlanta High failing or is it on the right track? What's wrong with the school? What's right with the school? Tell us in the comments below.

APS Board of Education member Nancy Meister, who represents North Atlanta High, sent a letter on Oct. 25 outlining the school's academic performance, which she said is positive. She pointed out that the school had an 88.5 percent graduation rate in 2011, explained why the school did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress and noted that the state did not recommend interventional support for the school.

Excerpts from the letter include:

"This community has been misled.  Great gains have been made though the hard work of our cluster principals, administrators, teachers, business partners, parents and most of all students. These have gone unrecognized and have been buried beneath allegations and innuendo...I believe as your BOE representative and as a parent, the leadership team that was at NAHS for the past 5 years has done an exceptional job at achieving student success and taking the school to a higher level."

A letter from NAH parent, Chris Adelman, shows that Meister's data may have been incorrect and unintentionally misleading. His research found that NAH's graduation rates have ranged from 72 percent to the mid-50 percent range over the last three years.

Excerpts from his letter include:

"My experience with NAHS’ leadership team has been fairly poor...The simple fact that a small, and vocal group of parents at NAHS has emotional ties to the outgoing principal is NOT evidence that he or any of his immediate staff were doing their jobs well...

NAHS gets a 5 out of 10 from parents, students and teachers  http://www.greatschools.org/georgia/atlanta/124-North-Atlanta-High-School/  Have a look at the earlier reviews while Mygrant was principal.  There are some pretty bad ones – with some unpleasant facts.

So, although the school has been making progress to become a full-fledged IB school, it is still in DIRE need of fundamental improvements in administration, and teaching."

A recent blog post from Local Voices Blogger Jarod Apperson asks the question: Is North Atlanta High Failing? In his analysis, he said, "Black, White, and Hispanic students at North Atlanta all exceed APS averages on SAT tests" and that NAH serves a "high needs population."

An email from one Buckhead Patch reader and mother, Laura, said:

"It sounds more like a case of reverse discrimination. If you looked inside our school, you would find just how colorful it is. Economically, socially and racially. We all find it absurd someone is calling the 'race card.' Third, there are great things happening at NAHS."


What do you think? Are there great things happening at NAH as well as things that urgently need to change? Is NAH failing? Tell us below in the comments.

Louis Mayeux November 09, 2012 at 03:31 PM
As a longtime journalist who has covered North Atlanta High for many years, I point out that the school's IB program has been in place for many years, so I don't know what the writer is talking about in stating that North Atlanta is moving toward being a full fledged IB school. North Atlanta's fully accredited IB program, the first in the Southeast, began about 20 years ago at North Fulton High, which merged with Northside to form North Atlanta. I don't know the circumstances of recent news events at the school, but as a reporter and a Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta parent, I consider Mark MyGrant and team dedicated professionals who sought the best for all students. I wrote Buckhead Patch articles about the school lagging in yearly annual progress and improving in SAT scores, and Mr. MyGrant answered my questions promptly and honestly. Full disclosure: I wrote a profile of Mr. MyGrant when he announced his retirement, detailing his many accomplishments at Sutton and North Atlanta. As a longtime supporter of North Atlanta, I'm concerned about rhe recent stories, but trust that dedicated Buckhead parents like those I've known and worked with for years will build upon the school's legacy of diversity and academic achievement. Louis Mayeux
Christine Bird November 09, 2012 at 05:02 PM
My son got an IB diploma in 1990. I believe that the first one was granted 4 years before that, which means that the program is at least 26 years old. The first director, Ann Goellner, expressed her frustration with the constant opposition to the program. "It's like they're seeing a rocket streak across the sky. Their first instinct is to shoot it down." The IB program is a commitment to excellence on the part of everyone in it. So what is the problem? I think that it is that IB parents are required to provide the extra resources needed to keep the program going. This results in white parents being able to provide an elite education for their children, while black children go begging. (There are exceptions, of course, with some black kids in IB and many white kids not.) The resources needed for IB should be provided by the Atlanta Public Schools, with an equivalent amount of resources devoted to all those not in the IB program. The fact that the possibility of this happening is just not there speaks volumes about Atlanta's commitment to its children. -- Christine Bird
Edi November 09, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Schools were integrated to give black students access to better quality schools in white neighborhoods. This only served to bring ALL the public schools down in quality. Fact. Black kids have been coddled and pushed ahead for so many years, many, not all, don't believe they have to work hard to get ahead. Our president confirms this belief. He got all the way to president, because he looks black and is smart, no genius though. If he resembled his mother more than his father, he wouldn't have gotten all the help from ? sources. Ironically, if he was darker, he would have faced prejudice from the black community and that too would have held him back! He refuses to show his college grades for only one reason, they are not good enough. Perhaps he even was allowed to graduate without sufficient effort, as was the norm at that time, still is in some places, the grade changing scandal was pretty recent. Blacks still want to blame others rather than take responsibility for their lack of progress, seem to sincerely believe they should automatically make just as good of grades as white kids and if they don't it is the schools' fault. You do not get better grades via osmosis from other kids. It takes a lot of hard work. North Atlanta is doing an amazing job considering the majority of black students, not all by any means, but far too many, see school as a fashion show, not a place of learning. They seem spoiled and self absorbed. Tell me where I am wrong, don't just call me a racist.
Kiri Walton (Editor) November 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Hello Louis! I hope you're doing well. Thank you for your comments. I can see, just from being out in the community and even from emails, that many parents feel similarly.
Daniel Walker November 09, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I'm black, and I have a son at NAHS. My son attends NAHS not for a fashion show, but to prepare him for college. My son is sufficiently challenged at NAHS, and I like that about the school. I don't know if these comments were meant to inflame people or represent how you truly feel. If these are your true feelings, it truly is a shame you feel that way. The majority of NAHS students are black, and the majority of them are graduating. There are some students, however, that are facing challenges. People can either talk and make excuses, or they can get involved and help these students out. I, for one, am going to try and help these students out. Now isn't the time for excuses and unnecessary distractions. A plan needs to be put in place to resolve NAHS' issues.
Molly Read Woo November 09, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Well, Edi, I'd say you're wrong on just about every point you made, but I won't bother to call you a racist because I think you pretty well took care of that yourself. As for North Atlanta, it is a fantastic school that offers students a fabulously rich learning environment, giving them opportunities to focus on strict academics, the arts, advanced foreign languages, media technology, environmental studies, ROTC, civics, studies abroad, and a host of other disciplines, but best of all - a chance to experience life in a vibrant, wondrously diverse and talented, caring, charismatic, profound, and occasionally entertaining group of students, teachers, and other staff and their families. It is a rare oasis in the city of Atlanta, where people respect each other, encourage each other, teach each other, and learn even more from each other, because it is a school where kids and staff from all kinds of backgrounds come together, and share what it best in this world - and that is, simply, studying and enjoying life - finding out the details, taking in the big picture. There are rare times and places when people are blessed because of their communion, and when folks bring different gifts to the table, what is shared is so much greater than was individually set aside. That's what happens at North Atlanta, and it just might be the most blessed mix of scholarly endeavors, creativity, youth, wisdom, and positive energy I've ever known in this city - and I've been here awhile.
Kim Zemmali November 10, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I agree wholeheartedly with Molly! It is indeed a special place of learning and community. My son thrived there with all it had to offer and is finding himself well prepared in college,and my daughter is being challenged and enjoying her experience. I believe that the parents, and past school leadership share a desire to see all kids succeed and have been working diligently to that end. They were in the process of expanding the IB program, growing the newest academy, and spreading out IB trained teachers to other academies. The drastic actions taken in such an abrupt manner set the school back significantly, and set the stage for unnecessary challenges for our new principal. However, we will continue as Louis Mayeux said so well, a tradition of diversity and achievement, and the pursuit of excellence. Everyone is welcome to join in and help out in whatever way they can. We also need to continue to seek the truth behind the superintendent's actions because that is the right thing to do for all of Atlanta's children.
Molly Read Woo November 12, 2012 at 06:33 PM
We will continue to work to make North Atlanta a great school for all students, and part of meeting that goal will be to fully investigate and disclose the conditions that prompted the Superintendent's seemingly arbitrary attack on some of the school's best programs and the people who had worked so hard to to put those programs in place. Up until a few weeks ago, North Atlanta has been a school where all students can get the education they need and deserve to succeed in life. From the academic superstar with model UN experience, now in his first year at Harvard, to the teenager who immigrated to the US a year ago and learned how to write a college application essay in his ESOL course, North Atlanta has offered an excellent education and attention to detail to all of its students. Let's hope it can continue to do as much, with its new principal, in a new location, and if needed - new management, as well.
Molly Read Woo November 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Thank you, Mr Walker. I'm glad to stand with you and our kids, to make North Atlanta a great school for everyone there.
Me November 13, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Ah, ONE student at Harvard doesn't make a school. Plenty of other schools in this area have many acceptances. Good for him, but isn't this the same kid who's parents demanded that NAHS pay for a reception for him because he was accepted to Harvard? Really? What about the rest of the student population who was accepted into college?
Todd Smith November 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM
As a former student of Sarah Smith and Sutton I had a choice to go N. Atlanta but chose not too because those school were and are still on a downward spiral. Parents of Buckhead with real money stopped sending their children to those schools along time ago!!
Me November 14, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Agreed, Todd. I wouldn't send my children there if you paid me! Too many issues, too much controversy, too much finger pointing, too many failures. They love to highlight the superstars, but then gloss over the abysmal failures. No thanks. Thank goodness Buckhead has private schools to save the day. I want my children focused on education and being a kid, not these crazy APS issues.
Asia William June 02, 2013 at 08:11 PM
My comment is directed towards "Me". This not to offend anyone, I am just stating my opinion and thoughts. Your children can still be focused on education if they went to North Atlanta. They could choose not to but it would be their choice. When your child is presented with a problem were it have an environment like North Atlanta, which you claim to be bad, how are they going to easily deal with it? At least the kids at North Atlanta are already experienced in that field and they could always just study harder when they are faced with a "private school" student. The library is the smartest person of all.


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