After technology specialist Eddie Parker received a cut in his salary from school officials, several of his supporters expressed their concerns and stood in his corner Thursday night.
During the public comment portion of the Clinton City Schools’ (CCS) Board of Education meeting, remarks from supporters revolved around their respective relationships with Parker and how they feel about his contributions to the school district.
Wayne Moore, a retired CCS educator, said he worked with Parker for a couple of years.
“I’ve never seen a young man work harder with technology than he did,” Moore said. “Technology is always changing and you have to be a pretty bright fella to keep up with it …”
Moore continued and said he would get emails sent in the wee hours of the morning — a sign that Parker was working that late.
“Valuable employees are hard to come by,” Moore said.
Parker began working for the school system in 2002 as network engineer and was promoted to Director of Technology Information System. The duties of the position included overseeing daily and technical aspects of the department. In June, Parker’s job title changed to System Administrator and according to Parker, that came with a salary cut. He said it’s simply a title change, with less money coming his way.
According to previous reports from CCS and Parker, his salary was $85,596 per year, but was brought down to $62,000. Parker has sought legal council and made a decision to appeal. The change in the title and salary was approved after a previous meeting, held in a closed session to discuss personnel issues.
Last year, Parker said he took family medical leave after having health issues. But he would still come in the office to help with projects. During the medical leave, Parker said he stayed in touch with Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount, who assured him that his job status would be OK when he returned.
While working for CCS for 13 years, Parker said his job performance was always above standard or exceptional, according to evaluations. In addition, Parker said he would work beyond the 40 hours a week to improve the school’s technology system.
David Byrd, lifelong Clinton resident and CCS product, said he sent email messages to the board regarding Parker’s status. On Thursday evening, he asked that the board reconsider the decision, something he consider to be an error.
“It would be a true loss to the school system to lose his expertise and character,” Byrd said.
Byrd believes the impact of the decision would be very detrimental to the Parker family, demoralizing to many in the school system and raise questions.
Parker’s wife, Regina Parker, addressed the board with a heavy heart regarding the matter. She said the district has faced different challenges, but they were always tackled in a positive way by the staff working together as a family to do what’s best for the students.
“Unfortunately the atmosphere of family and people first has deteriorated over the last several years,” Parker said. “Employee turnover seems to be at a higher record and employee satisfaction seems to be at an all-time low. I would like to challenge you the Board of Education, to listen to the concerned voices in the community.”
Although many people did not attend Thursday’s meeting, Parker said she was speaking up for those who came to them with concerns. She told the board members that they had the power to make positive changes and difference for the school system.
“One very important issue that needs to be addressed by this Board of Education is the injustice that has been done to my husband, Eddie,” Parker said.
While discussing his work ethic, she said her husband has been one of the most dedicated employees in the school system.
“From his first day of work, 13 years ago, his whole focus has been on making Clinton City Schools the best school district possible, technologically, for the betterment of the children,” she said. “He has poured his blood, sweat and tears and time into this technology department that he has built from the ground up.”
Parker continued and said he worked countless hours during holidays, weekends and nights to make sure instructional time was not interrupted. Since the department was understaffed, she said Eddie would recruit her and their children.
“In fact, I came and helped him set up this room for board meetings,” she remarked. “My kids have been out on certain nights in pajamas helping him get work done in the school system. His dedication and his family’s dedication to this schools system has been very clear.”
Through his expertise, she said Eddie saved the district money by not having to use contract workers for projects. Also, she said he was able to work with prior administrations to accomplish his visions when it came to technology.
“Unfortunately, this opportunity to share has not been made available,” Parker noted. “He would love to get together with administration and this board to share his vision and try to continue moving forward.”
As she concluded, Parker urged the board to discuss the matter and her husband’s situation. Following the remarks of Parker’s supporters, school board members did not make any detailed remarks about Parker.
“The board appreciates the public comment,” said Board chairman Jason Walters. “We really do look forward to hearing what the public has to say. We’ll take your opinions to heart.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.