Outraged Over the Firing of Miner Principal Lavonne Taliaferro-Bunch

Where Is DCPS's Promised Family Engagement?

Just two days before school ended, without any warning, our principal, Mrs. Lavonne Taliaferro-Bunch, was fired from Miner Elementary School. Families were not given an explanation or any word from the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) about their plans for change. DCPS says it values the role parents and the community play in educating its students. On its website, engaging families is listed as one of the chancellor’s highest priorities. I have to wonder what this means exactly because recent events have led me to feel excluded from the process.

Mrs. Bunch is valued and appreciated and I want her to remain as principal of Miner Elementary. Many in the community do too. Individual letters have been written and calls have been made on her behalf. Lauren Kabler, Jon Wadsworth and Arthur Yarbrough, executive board members of the Parent-Teacher Organization, have led the community in rallies, an online petition, and a letter writing campaign that has resulted in more than 500 individually signed letters being delivered to the mayor, chancellor and selected council members. We want others to know about Mrs. Bunch’s strong leadership, dedication and why we want her to be reinstated as principal.

Our children benefit from Mrs. Bunch’s vision for the development of all students and they have for at least seven years. Her consistent and thoughtful actions have resulted in strong programs, family support and extensive partnerships within the community. Test scores alone do not tell the story of Miner Elementary and the opportunities children have had as a result of Mrs. Bunch’s leadership. While it may be DCPS’s right not to reappoint an administrator and not inform the community about its decision, I believe our principal deserves better than to be let go and I also believe the students and families of Miner deserve more.

Although family engagement is listed as a high priority, a week’s worth of rallies, letters, phone calls, emails, an online petition, and press coverage to get even the possibility of a meeting shows significant weaknesses in communication. This makes me question the value DCPS truly places on family partners. Since joining the Miner community, I have seen parents, teachers and others committed to the school and a principal who leads tirelessly. We are here and dedicated to the path being paved by Mrs. Bunch. DCPS changed that path without one meeting, one phone call, or one letter. This is insulting. We are willing to work with the system to improve our children’s educational experience. If DCPS truly wants to turn the system around, families across the city need to feel valued, included, and heard. I, and many others, want a seat at the table and hope there’s a chair for each of us.


Meryl S. Heyliger, PhD
Parent of a Miner ES Pre-Kindergartener

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