Terminate Dr. Willis Smith as UEMS Principal
Terminate Dr. Willis Smith as UEMS Principal
Why this petition matters
We, the parents, grandparents, friends, and students of Utica Elementary Middle School petition the Hinds County School District Superintendent, Superintendent's Cabinet, School Board, and MS Department of Education to remove Dr. Willis Smith from his position as principal of UEMS, effective immediately.
Will Smith took an oath to enforce anti-bullying. Not only did he FAIL to uphold his oath, he also VIOLATED it.
During the 2020-2021 school year, a third grade child wrote a note expressing wanting to die while at school. The child reported being bullied for years and continued to endure it during the 2020-2021 school year. The school had not revised the class roasters for 3 years. So the child was surrounded by the same peers each year, which was not conducive to eradicating bullying. When the parents of the third grade child met with the principal & school counselor about the note, Will Smith blatantly lied.
>He falsely accused the child of lying about being bullied and reporting it. In actuality, the School FAILED to properly document the bullying complaints.
>He falsely accused the parents of abusing the child (which is a lie because the child has a serious heart condition and has to be evaluated by medical professionals often. So if abuse had taken place it would have been reported to CPS).
>He falsely accused the child of having behavioral issues. An investigation proved that this was not true but no disciplinary actions were taken against Willis Smith for being dishonest.
>With the child present in the meeting, he stated that if a teacher did not witness it, then bullying did not take place. And he runs “his” school as he sees fit.
In written communication, Willis Smith told a parent that her child was NOT BULLIED but HARASSED. Harassment is clearly stated as being prohibited in the Hinds County School District Handbook, so Will Smith admitted his own guilt. The administrators of UEMS failed to properly enforce the Hinds County School District’s anti-bullying policy and must be held accountable. This entire meeting, where Willis Smith lied and tried to intimidate a child into silence, was recorded but no disciplinary action resulted from the (Associate) Superintendent. So the parents of the third grade class came together to resolve the bullying issue without the help of the school administrators. Will Smith often receives public praises for the successes of UEMS, but in actuality, the teachers have been doing the grunt work behind the scenes to propel the school. Will Smith lacked a physical presence throughout the 2020-2021 school year and neglected his responsibilities as principal. He overburdened his assistant principal by tasking her with his duties on top of her own.
During the 2021-2022 school year, Will Smith re-introduced bullying in UEMS in an adult form. He created a hostile environment for the now fourth grader. Whenever the child would greet the principal, he would roll his eyes at her and would not greet her back. The parents of the fourth grader had another meeting with the principal and (Associate) Superintendent to address the hostility Willis Smith exhibited toward the child. The parents expressed that he was causing mental and emotional distress for the child. Yet again, no actions were taken following the complaint. On Nov 1, 2021, Will Smith confiscated the purse of the fourth grader, stating that fourth grade students were not allowed to carry colored purses. Nowhere is this rule documented in the school handbook. Parents were not provided written communication of the rule. And the child has carried the same purse since school began in August. The purse did not become an issue until the child’s parents filed a complaint against the principal in October 2021. Will Smith violated the child’s privacy by taking her personal belongings and rummaging through it. Will Smith disciplines students at UEMS through extreme measures without a warning. For instance, in November 2021 he suspended a child for having a water bottle without first giving her a warning.
For years, parents of UEMS have notified administrators of the ongoing bullying taking place within the school. Instead of empathizing with the students and offering solutions to eradicate bullying, Will Smith villainizes the victims of bullying. On a viral Facebook post with over 200 shares and comments, multiple parents recounted their experiences with how the principal Will Smith addressed bullying. Each parent shared similar testimonies that when they reached out to the principal for help, Will Smith flipped the narrative by labeling the accuser as the bully. He also takes disciplinary actions against the accuser, without properly investigating the situation. Shortly after the community outcry on the Facebook post, Will Smith took to his personal Facebook account and stated (in a since edited post) that he was “unbothered” by the distress & disapproval expressed from the community. On top of this behavior being completely inappropriate for a school administrator, it is also against the District’s Code of Ethics.
We the parents of UEMS fear for the safety of children under the leadership of Dr. Willis Smith. Will Smith is a bully, tyrant, and is unfit to be the Head Principal of UEMS. We, taxpayers and citizens, demand that concerns for our children’s safety be met without resistance from the School Board. We also petition to remove Dr. Willis Smith from Utica Elementary Middle School as principal, based on his ongoing pattern of controversial and antagonistic behavior.