Featured photo: Student artwork hangs outside The Experiential School in downtown Greensboro. (photo by Carolyn de Berry)

The end of the school year is usually marked by celebratory graduations, the cleaning out of classrooms and a few retirements of long-term faculty.

But at the Experiential School of Greensboro, a social-justice focused public charter school, the end of the 2022-23 school year was marked by something different.

On June 16, parents received an email announcing that the school’s director, Tinisha Shaw, wasn’t going to be returning to the school the following school year.

The announcement came less than a month after Triad City Beat ran its cover story about the school, in which former parents and at least one staff member alleged a pattern of a lack of transparency, questionable disciplinary practices and an allegedly power-hungry board of directors.

Now, in the wake of the board’s email — which stated that Shaw “is pursuing other opportunities next year,” and that they “appreciate her work this year and wish her the best in her future endeavors” — questions have once again resurfaced about the board’s involvement in the school.

As noted in TCB’s reporting, Shaw is the fourth director, or acting principal, of TESG in the school’s five-year history. Past directors were also allegedly dismissed by the board, according to parents who spoke with TCB, with questions to the board about the reasons for the directors’ dismissals going unanswered.

For the first story, TCB reached out to both the board and Shaw on numerous occasions to ask questions but received a “no comment” response each time.

When news of Shaw’s departure came through in mid-June, TCB once again reached out to the board, which responded that “privacy laws prevent the Board of Directors or school employees from commenting on any specific student and or employee matters.”

TCB could not reach Shaw for comment, either.

In TCB’s first article, at least one parent, Karen Obas, stated that she had issues with how Shaw directed the school. But Obas and others also suspected that Shaw and past directors had been stunted in the way they ran the school by the board of directors, run by Board President Leila Villaverde, one of the original founders of the school.

In a comment to TCB, Obas said that Shaw’s departure marked “a further demonstration that the board is the problem.”

An editorial note on race, reporting and timing

When TCB published its story in May, we received feedback from a number of parents, many of them parents of color, who felt like the story was too one-sided in its portrayal of the school. Some parents with whom TCB had in-depth conversations but did not want to be named noted that many of the parents featured in the original story were of one demographic: white, wealthy, privileged. And they reiterated some of the same issues with the school: a lack of transparency, a diminishing of parental involvement, possible overreach by the board. 

TCB always aims to report from a justice-focused perspective and acknowledges that many of the parents who spoke to the paper were of a particular demographic. One result of this is that Shaw, the school’s first Black director, was possibly dismissed due to TCB’s reporting. To that, TCB apologizes. We always want to get the clearest, fullest story possible. The lack of diversity in our sources highlighted in the first story was an issue.

Our hope is that from our reporting, there can be more transparency and accountability at the school, not less.

Those wanting to reach out to Triad City Beat about this story should send an email to [email protected]

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