An online petition was launched Tuesday morning calling for the resignation of Midland ISD Superintendent Orlando Riddick and fellow administrative staff. As of Wednesday afternoon, it’s collected 360 signatures.
The petition was created by local advocacy group Midland Moms on a Mission (MMOM) who are, according to the petition website, “a group of parents and community members fighting for a CHANGE in the process of how bullying is reported, investigated and handled at Midland Independent School District.”
Formed in 2017, its genesis was rooted in a student-to-student bullying and sexual harassment case that took place at a local elementary school. MISD responded to the child’s parents by stating that there was not enough evidence proving that bullying took place, despite later reports from the Midland Police Department and Midland Rape Crisis and Children’s Advocacy Center indicating otherwise. The district’s response has remained at the forefront of MMOM’s conversations with MISD and has caused additional parents to voice their disagreement with MISD’s bullying policies.
While the group’s attention has revolved primarily around bullying, the petition touches on several other areas, including a “mass exodus” of teachers (in which it states over 500 teachers are leaving the district), school safety, corrupt leadership, mistrust from the community, and poor communication.
The petition states, “After nearly a year of leadership, Mr. Riddick has failed to optimally perform in the [above] areas, which are a part of his contractual obligations as the head of schools MISD. In addition to his resignation, we are requesting the removal of specific leaders and employees of under his authority, which are tied to the collapse of leadership and school administration under Mr. Riddick.”
Prior to the petition, members of MMOM also spoke at a number of school board meetings and held a protest last May.
According to an article in the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Riddick released the following statement in response to the petition:
“Upon arriving in Midland, it has been my goal to engage with our community. There are claims made in this petition that are simply not true, and I encourage our community and the news media to ask hard questions and seek more information before making assumptions about my leadership, members of my team and my work. I have been extremely transparent and accessible since I came to this district. In the past year, Midland ISD has hosted a number of community engagement events. We have gone directly to our community seeking ways we can improve our district through a Listen and Learn Tour coupled with multiple parent meetings. During these meetings, we discuss openly with our community difficult topics and engage in very dynamic conversations. Boundary changes, transformation, in-district charter partnerships, and before and after-school programs, are examples. More so than ever before, we are collaborating with parents, business, faith-based, and community-serving organizations. A transparent example of this is the creation of the bullying task force which includes parents, community members, district staff and Midland Moms on a Mission. Our goal will remain to engage with our community.”
Riddick also authored an op-ed in the MRT in June stating that the allegation that MISD is “‘covering up’ or ‘withholding’ information regarding bullying is false,” and that, “this type of behavior stems from misunderstanding, mistrust and lack of collaboration between the community and a public school system.”
Riddick was hired as MISD’s superintendent last August after serving as Cedar Hill ISD’s superintendent for three years. He succeeded interim superintendent Rod Schroder of Amarillo, who served from August 2016 to August 2017, after former MISD Superintendent Ryder Warren resigned.