Principal Under Fire for Having T.I. as Guest Speaker
A middle school principal in Henry County, Georgia has found himself at odds with parents after scheduling T.I. as a guest speaker for students. The ATL rapper, real name Clifford Harris, recently completed the terms of his 366-day prison sentence stemming from a 2007 illegal weapons possession charge.
Parents of children attending Woodland Middle School have taken issue with principal Dr. Terry Oatts for allowing a convicted felon to speak to their children without permission. "Had I had the opportunity to not let them go, I would have had them sit out," said parent Tom Meyers, who took the issue to the Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News.
Meyers, who has four daughters attending Woodland Middle School, said that when he was informed of T.I.'s guest appearance, he immediately contacted Oatts via e-mail to express his outrage. "In future, if T.I. or any other convicted felon needs to perform community service, ask for parental permission to allow our children to be exposed to these questionable individuals," he wrote. Meyers said he decided to take the story to the news channel, when he received the following reply from the principal. "I thought about asking a guy who snorted cocaine and got arrested for DUI when he was 30 to come and speak to our kids, but President George W. Bush was not available," Oatts wrote.
Although officials have confirmed that T.I. did speak at Woodland Middle School on March 5, they also expressed that there is no policy requiring them to give parents advance notification for public speakers. The school board has promised parents that they will investigate the situation, but principal Oatts does not seem to have any regrets about the situation. His last follow-up e-mail to Meyers is as follows.
"Mr. Harris has never been conceited of homicide. We would not be able to adequately staff our states general assembly, our U.S. Congress or the executive branch of our government using your apparent standards."