Community members protest suspension of Signal Mountain principal

Community members protest suspension of Signal Mountain principal

May 23rd, 2012 by Steve Hardy in Local Regional News

Tom McCullough

Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson

POLL: Do you agree with the superintendent's decision to suspend Tom McCullough?

Signal Mountain High School parents, alumni and others in the community are circulating a petition asking Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith to lift his suspension of principal Tom McCullough.

The principal announced his intent to retire last week amidst a scandal involving school employees who consumed alcohol while chaperoning a student event. His contract was to end on June 30, but the superintendent has suspended McCullough for the remainder of his tenure.

The petition, which had over 100 signatures this morning, applauds the principal for bringing the International Baccalaureate program to the school and presiding over a student body with test scores in the top 5 percent of state standards and whose seniors had a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

The petition reads:

We the undersigned respectfully ask Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Rick Smith to lift the suspension of Dr. Tom McCullough and allow him to continue in his role as principal of Signal Mountain Middle High School until June 30, 2012, to allow Dr. McCullough to complete his current contract with the Hamilton County Department of Education.

Dr. McCullough's leadership at Signal Mountain Middle High School has helped the school become one of the best - if not the best - school in Hamilton County. During Dr. McCullough's tenure:

SMMHS became the first Hamilton County school to be authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer the IB Diploma Program.

SMMHS has achieved test scores in the top 5% of the state and international academic standards.

SMMHS has won five state sports championships: 2012 Middle School Girls Basketball, 2012 High School Girls Golf, 2010 High School Football, 2010 High School Volleyball, and 2009 High School Girls Golf.

In April of this year, Dr. McCullough was named High School Principal of the Year by the Hamilton County PTA.

Of the 140 students in SMMHS' 2012 graduating class, 140 - 100% - have been accepted into college.

There may be no way to determine how many students Dr. McCullough has positively influenced during his 42 years as an educator. We are signing this petition because he has made a difference in our lives. We understand that mistakes may have been made. But to end such an accomplished career with a suspension because of actions by other adults - and a threat of harsher discipline if Dr. McCullough dares to even appeal the suspension - is simply wrong. Please show that the Hamilton County Department of Education does, indeed, value achievement in our schools, and allow Dr. McCullough to retire with the respect he deserves.

Read the Times Free Press on Thursday for more information.