The Alexandria School Board last night adopted dozens of recommendations aimed at solving curriculum and discipline problems at George Mason Elementary School, but stopped short of providing a special administrator to watch over the principal.
Principal Felicia Lanham Tarason, hired last year, was blamed in a report last month by a task force of parents and teachers with failing to back up teachers who discipline students and largely ignoring parents' concerns and input.
The board last night rejected a task force request that Tarason be supplemented at the school with an administrator who would report to the superintendent directly.
"The principal is in charge of the school; the principal will be held accountable for the school in the course of the regular evaluation process for principals," said a report that the board prepared in response to the task force.
"However, additional support has been, and will continue to be, available to the principal," the board's report said.
Tarason has refused to respond to the task force's report.
The task force of 11 parents and three teachers was formed last summer to examine complaints that the school was experiencing discipline and curriculum problems. Some parents removed their students from the third grade, saying their children were being held back because too much time was spent on poorly achieving students.
Board member Nelson E. Greene Jr. said after the vote that the complaints surrounding George Mason raise "disturbing" themes. "It has decomposed into a witch hunt and I hope the witch hunt is over," Greene said. "It has diverted us away from the purpose of educating the students."
Noting that George Mason pulls students from two very different communities, one of affluent whites and the other of lower-income blacks, Greene said, "I hope the community -- we keep referring to two communities -- will learn and come into the real world. Folks, we live together."
Among the recommendations adopted were ones calling for the principal to greet students at the door and for finding ways to help parents feel more comfortable at George Mason.