WILKES-BARRE — Another voice has called for the resignation of embattled Wilkes-Barre Area School Board member Ned Evans. And the same group may call for fellow board member Denise Thomas to resign.
Wilkes-Barre National Association for the Advancement of Colored People vice president Andita Parker-Lloyd issued a statement Wednesday morning. Parker-Lloyd is also a long-time teacher in the district.
The statement notes “the NAACP’s mission is to ensure educational equality of all persons,” then says “in light of the inappropriate comments made by Ned Evans, we wish to request his resignation. Mr. Evans has yet again shown a lack of judgment.
“He is out of touch with reality and should not be a leader for the Wilkes-Barre Area School district,” it read, “people make mistakes but our students cannot afford for this man to continue to be involved in their future.”
Evans prompted public outcry with a comment he made on a Facebook page regarding a case in Arizona, where a 27-year-old female teacher was accused of having oral sex with a 13-year old male student. Evans has said the posting was a mistake and apologized, but Superintendent Brian Costello issued a statement saying he and the other school board members were asking Evans to resign. Board member Melissa Patla issued her own statement promising she will ask for his resignation at the next meeting, set for Aug. 7.
Told Wednesday of the NAACP’s call for his resignation, Evans said he was “stunned and disappointed,” but repeated his promise to remain on the board. “I’m not going anywhere.”
He also recounted an exchange with local NAACP president Guerline Laurore at the April school board meeting. Laurore sharply questioned the board’s plan to merge Coughlin and Meyers but to leave GAR as is. Noting GAR has more minority students than either of the other high schools (25 percent black and 40 percent Hispanic) she said the decision risks making the students feel “we are not good enough.”
Evans rejected the notion, saying “I think every student in the school, no matter what color they are … gets the same opportunity.” But Laurore shot back. “That you feel that way makes sense,” she said. “You never had to be ostracized because you were a student of color.”
On Wednesday, Evans suggested the NAACP has asked for his resignation because of that clash. “She was only in this area a year, year and a half, and I thought her statement about the teachers was premature.”
Asked if the local NAACP planned to respond to controversy regarding board member Thomas, Parker-Lloyd said the issue is under review. Emails written by Thomas when she worked for the district part time in 2010 and 2011 have been criticized as making fun of minority and special education students. Thomas conceded she sometimes lacks a “filter,” but did not recall writing some of the emails.
Parker-Lloyd expects the NAACP will call for Thomas’ resignation as well.
For nearly two decades, the local NAACP has periodically taken the district to task regarding the lack of minority teachers.
Parker-Lloyd served on an “internal committee” formed when the board was looking to make a decision on the fate of the three aging high schools. The internal committee was composed of district employees. An external committee of area residents was also formed.
When the board voted in June 2015 to consolidate grades 9-12 from Meyers and Coughlin into a new building, Parker-Lloyd spoke in favor of consolidation as a way to help eliminate “racism and classism” in the high schools.
More recently at a January meeting this year, Parker-Lloyd cautioned the board against leaving GAR students behind when consolidation occurs, noting it has the highest percentage of black (25 percent) and Hispanic (40 percent) students among the three high schools.
Evans’ Facebook comment was widely construed as an attempt to joke about the Arizona case, and had no apparent racial overtones. But the NAACP statement took him to task as being unfit to oversee treatment of students.
“Ensuring great teaching, equitable resources, and a challenging curriculum cannot be accomplished with Mr. Evans’ blunders. As a former teacher and principal, his conduct cannot be tolerated on any level. We no longer feel that Mr. Evans can be entrusted with our students and make sound decisions.”
Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish