Photo courtesy of Lisa Rollings: Students from the EC-P High School Art Class work on creating the mural for the Footloose Festival, which has drawn criticism from school officials and the general public. Shortly after this photo was taken the art class was removed from the project.
By Lindsey Temple
News Star Reporter
Donnie Darrow, Superintendent of schools for the Elmore City-Pernell School District, denies he or his faculty had any involvement in a mean spirited letter recently sent anonymously to City Clerk, Lisa Rollings.
The letter, received at EC City Hall on Tuesday, March 20, was not signed by any one particular person, yet claimed to represent the entire EC-P faculty regarding the recent mural painted on one of Elmore City’s most noticed buildings.
The building on the southeast corner of the four way intersection in Elmore City has recently been transformed into a mural, advertising this year’s upcoming Footloose Festival, but not everyone in the town has been thrilled about the city’s choice of artwork.
One of the festivals entertainers is a Christian rap group known as “Mike Bone”; a dark, large silhouette of the duo can be seen on the building, depicting the twosome’s logo.
Some residents, including EC-P superintendent, Darrow, have voiced concerns about the perception the logo might give to visitors of the town.
“When I saw the picture of those two gang looking individuals, I didn’t not know they were a Christian group, I went into City Hall and asked that the painting be removed. It is important for me to portray a good perception of our school,” explained Darrow.
“I spoke to Lisa directly, I would never send a letter anonymously,” Darrow went on to say.
After learning the group was Christian based and positive in nature, Darrow stood behind his concern stating, “Perception trumps reality.”
“We have good quality kids here from good hard working families,” stressed Darrow.
A few days after Darrow’s meeting with Rollings, City Hall received an envelope with no return address, enclosed was the letter in question. The letter expressed, with questionable language and very strong opinion, disdain for Rollings’ efforts with not only the mural, but also her ideas and plans concerning the community.
“Our High School Superintendent came to the City Hall the other day and asked that the ‘CRAPPY GRAFFITY’ be removed from the building at the 4-way stop in Elmore City. We, the ELMORE CITY SCHOOL FACULTY, can only agree that this type of advertisement does not reflect the true nature of most citizens who live here,” read the letter.
The letter then went on to heed Rollings a lofty warning, “Better said, if you want to keep your job, don’t insult your superiors!”
EC Mayor Larry Cleveland weighed in on the controversy with anger, explaining Rollings is an elected official and questioned the warning made in regards to her job.
“I approve everything she does for this community,” explained Cleveland, referring to Rollings, “she does not act alone and she did not deserve this.”
Superintendent Darrow did not speak to his faculty directly in a meeting, which was suggested by Cleveland. Darrow could only say that the letter was ill-written, contained misspellings and was not language that he or his staff would use.
“It’s a shame that something so positive for this community has had such a negative effect. Lisa Rollings has worked very hard for this community and should be admired, respected and appreciated for her work to make this a better place to live,” explained Darrow.