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What Happened to Lindley Middle School Principal Sandra Ervin?

Parents and community members want to know, but no one is supplying answers about the often lauded middle school principal, who retired suddenly two weeks before school began.

If Lindley Middle School was a ship, it would have been sinking fast three years ago.

The school was ranked one of the worst in the state, and had been in “Needs Improvement” status for the past six years.

Parents, teachers and community members say Sandra Ervin, the school’s new captain, took the wheel, turned the ship around and gave it wind for its sails. Since she came aboard, the school made Adequate Yearly Progress every year and was even recognized for its dramatic progress.

So, on the first day of school, many parents are left to wonder what happened to Ervin, whose retirement was announced publicly Wednesday.

“Parents are still in a fog about it. All of us were crushed,” said Terri Robinson, who has one son attending Lindley this year and another who attended under Ervin. “I was shocked…We all think the world of her and the results that she has gotten from our kids.”

Lindley faculty received letters notifying them of Ervin’s resignation during the first week of August, just two weeks before the new school year begins.

Concerned parents requested a meeting with Cobb County School District officials to get answers about the school’s leader. At the meeting held Monday at the school, parents were told that they CCSD officials cannot release information about Ervin’s resignation.

By Monday afternoon, South Cobb Patch Editor Kiri Walton had received several emails, text messages and calls wondering what happened to Ervin.

CCSD spokesman Doug Goodwin told South Cobb Patch that it’s district policy to not release personnel information.

At Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, Ervin’s resignation was announced publicly. She is now retired effective two weeks before the first day of school. Dr. Mitchel Bivens, former Green Acres Elementary School principal, will replace Ervin as principal at Lindley. (Although Ervin has been removed from the school's website, the site lists the new principal as Mike Bivens, not Mitchel Bivens.)

As of Thursday, no letters had been sent to Lindley Middle parents notifying them of the administration change, according to Goodwin.

With Ervin at the helm, the school became a Distinguished Title I School.

Ervin began her educational career several years ago as a teacher in North Cobb. Except for a four-year stint as a principal in Fulton County, she has spent her entire career in Cobb schools.

When she returned to Cobb, she said she wanted to go to a school where she could make a difference.

“I didn’t want to go where I wasn’t needed,” she is quoted as saying in the Marietta Daily Journal in June 2011. “I wanted to go someplace where at the end of the day, I knew I had made a difference.”

The MDJ Associate Editor Bill Kinney called former CCSD Fred Sanderson “an old friend” of Ervin’s, and said it was he who assigned her to Lindley Middle School.

Ervin described Lindley’s atmosphere when she arrived as “chaos” and “really a nightmare.”

She came in and helped establish a new dress code to help cut down on the fighting at the school, which was ranked by NEA as one of the most violent in the state.

In Ervin’s third year at Lindley, in a study published in fall 2011, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education identified Lindley Middle School as one of 12 middle schools in the state contributing to the success of the high school it feeds.

The GPEE credited new administration for the positive change of the school.

However, since the study has been published, Lindley has gotten a new principal and a new assistant principal. Lindley teacher Sabrina Richardson was assigned as assistant principal of the school in June.

Parents already miss Ervin.

Robinson gushed about Ervin and the results she received in just three years.

“Her passion for these kids cannot be denied. She made a difference in the lives of our three sons,” Robinson said. “I think she had a lot of heart and a lot of drive. She had a vision. She shared her vision and then she did it. She should start her own school.”

Parents are hopeful that the school’s success and progress will continue this school year and are open to new principal Bivens.

“At the start of the new year, parents are crushed and don’t have a lot of answers. We’re still hopeful that the culture and legacy will be enough…We’re going to give him (Bivens) all the support he needs, but we’re disappointed that Ervin will not be here,” Robinson said.

Charles Klughart August 13, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Has attempts been made to contact the Principal herself ? I assume so. She was a great leader and I hope all is well with her.
Just A Grunt August 13, 2012 at 12:51 PM
And of course the previous principal of Lindley has been rewarded by moving on to become the principal at Pebblebrook High School. And people wonder why schools are so messed up.
repubnut August 13, 2012 at 01:59 PM
SOMETHING IS WRONG !!!!! Don't stop until the citizens are notify !!!!
Kiri Walton (Editor) August 13, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Yes, efforts have been made to contact Ms. Ervin. If anyone has her contact info, please email me at kiri.walton@patch.com. I know that several community members and parents are seeking answers.
Joyce Oscar August 13, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Lindley was in a mess before the previous principal (before Ervin) got there. One major reason Mrs Ervin had such great success at Lindley is because approximately 60% of the kids were from her from Harmony Leland, where Ervin was principal before she went to Fulton County. They had respect for her, the parents had respect for her and the teachers had respect for her.
C Poe August 13, 2012 at 09:36 PM
There seems to be a date error in this article. I'm assuming Dr. Ervin began her Cobb Co. teaching career in 1985, rather than 1965, since she's in her mid-50's!
Kiri Walton (Editor) August 13, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Hi C Poe, thanks for catching that. I changed that sentence and linked to the MDJ article that stated that she began teaching in 1965.
Former Falcon August 17, 2012 at 01:50 PM
As a former teacher under Dr. Ervin, the community should know that there is more going on behind the scenes. She was under financial investigation. Her students are Title 1, yet she would charge them money to attend school assemblies or birthday parties that she threw for herself. She also did a fundraiser for Relay for Life, but only gave half of the profits to the Relay for Life organization. Another issue, she had a "school store" that charged underpriviledged kids $1 for candy and chips. In addition, her "fear tactics" with teachers accruded a large turn over of teachers every year. Her relationship with former Cobb County Superintendent kept her in power. Please don't be fooled, Lindley only makes AYP when they are retested in the summer. Previous principals accomplished the same thing. Ervin did not turn a sinking ship around. Teachers who worked 12 hour days with no planning, volunteered their personal time for tutoring, and created 20 page lesson plans kept the ship sailing! I loved teaching at Lindley, and I wish I were still there to help those students. Unfortunately, Dr. Ervin's instability as a leader and unethical decisions led my path elsewhere.
KK August 18, 2012 at 01:04 PM
While you make some valid points if whay you say is true, I think you need a better understanding of the use of Federal Funds. Title I funds cannot be used for anything other than academics. If a principal wants to provide students with any type of incentives, like school dances, it has to be paid for from another source. A principal is also limited in how the money allocated by the district is used. So think about the various non academic activities that were provided to the students and explain how they were to be funded. Cobb has supported principals who have done far worse. things so whatever happened is bigger than this. If she was using Federal funds for those activities, then that would be a big deal.
Abused August 18, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Abused I taught at Lindley and had to endure unreasonable work hours, unethical behavior, lack of professionalism and the list goes on... When your principal slams doors, throws books down, yells at you over the PA system so the entire school can hear, yells at you in front of your students,and I could add more. It is time for her to go. She put on a good front for the parents and Cobb leaders but reality is teachers left for a reason not the kids. Teachers were getting sick, removed from the school in an ambulance, and even in a nursing home because of the stress. It makes you wonder. If you ever have been abused you know it when you see it or experience it. For those of you who have never experienced abuse , GREAT. The truth of the matter is Sandra Ervin abused her teachers and made hundreds of dollars from those students everyday by selling them candy as they walked in the door. More will come out once teachers feel comfortable again, just say tuned. I leave you with a direct quote from Sandra Ervin, "Even my own mother says she could not work for me." I think that says it all.
Former Employee August 22, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I worked at Lindley under Mrs. Ervin. She was VERY, VERY good at pulling the wool over the eyes of parents and Central Office staff. She was extremely good at complimenting teachers while threatening them at the same time. It was definitely an environment of fear and intimidation. Teachers were afraid to breath without permission. There were many instances of unethical behaviors by Mrs. Ervin, but no one would listen to the staff who sought help from Central Office. And, sadly, if you really go over the test results, there is not much difference in the scores. The school is barely making AYP...barely. That is sad for the students, but it is even sadder that the teachers had no one to hear concerns. Because Mrs. Ervin was a master PR person, parents bought into the facade hook, line, and sinker. They never had to witness her tirades. They were never humiliated by her in front of staff and students. She pretended to respect her staff. It was a horrible and stress-filled environment. Threats and intimidation do not a good learning environment make. It is a good thing for CCSD that she is gone. (And, yes, there were many, many instances of financial irregularities (Fraud), but no one would listen when the teachers tried to report it.)
Sunshine August 24, 2012 at 03:18 AM
I hope the children of Lindley Middle School can recover from this. Teachers are adults and for the most part will be fine, but this could have damaged the children that trusted her.
Sunshine August 24, 2012 at 03:31 AM
I heard from my children that Mrs. Ervin was stealing money from the school. People find out what happens, but it's always after the fact of the matter has happened. Why was she able to retire? Why wasn't she arrested? Why does she get to save face? That's not right!!! She should have to pay just like anyone else has to. I'm going to look more into this matter because she should be held accountable for her actions. She was the schools leader and she let the entire school down. I have three children that went to Lindley. Parents were trying to get her out her very first year there. They could she what others couldn't. My children took a liking to her, but I didn't like her that much. It was just something about her that rubbed me wrong. I now know why....my children were in the mist of evil. The children are the ones that suffer in the end. She not only took from the school. She took from: students, parents, teachers, various staff members, herself and God. She goes to church every Sunday and acts like nothings going on. I'm not perfect by far. I have made my share of mistakes, but she puts up this front for people. THE TRUTH NEEDS TO COME OUT!!!!!!
Sunshine August 24, 2012 at 03:39 AM
THE PERSON THAT CAUGHT HER SHOULD HAVE TOLD!!!!!
Michelle Post August 26, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I worked for Sandra Ervin at Sandtown Middle School (she was the school's first principal) in Fulton County. The school did not make AYP the 3yrs. she was there. Ms. McBeautiful did not treat her teachers fairly, and folks got fed up. She might have been the head of the school, but it is the teachers in the classroom doing the teaching who make the real difference. I wish her well!
I THINK IT'S A SHAME WHEN PEOPLE ACUSE SOMEONE OF SOMETHING BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY HEARD ....THEN SAY LET THE TRUTH BE TOLD , AFTER SAYING HORRIBLE THINGS ABOUT THE PERSON AND PRE JUDGE THEM BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THEY HEARD!!! I'M WILLING TO BET ALL OF YOU GO TO CHURCH EVERY SUNDAY AND LISTEN TO SCRIPTURES AND CA'T WAIT TO GOSSIP , LET ME LET YOU IN ON SOMETHING .....THERE ARE 2 SIDES 2 EVERY COIN AND 2 SIDES 2 EVERY STORY. HOW CAN THE CHILDREN KNOW THAT SHE WAS STEALING MONEY .....OH I GET IT SHE DID IT RIGHT IN THERE FACE!!! WELL I GUESS I STEAL MONEY, LOOK KIDS I'M STEALING MONEY, OOPS! I GUESS YOU GONNA TEL UR PARENTS AND I'M GOING TO JAIL AND RUIN MY CAREER....UM! NOW IF ASOMEONE SAW IT FIRST HAND THAT'S THE PERSON WITH THE FACTS, AND CAN WE TRUST THAT!!!
Parent September 20, 2012 at 09:17 PM
I was a parent who had a child at both Harmony Leland and Lindley. After one year at Lindley with Ms. Ervin, I pulled him out. Horrible environment.
Johnny Bowe September 21, 2012 at 12:17 AM
These "quiet" departures happen for a reason. Cobb's school system is very good at hushing up bad publicity. Embezzlement, outright stealing of school system property. It happens, it happens a lot here in south Cobb.
Pandora September 29, 2012 at 12:18 PM
A broken clock is correct twice a day, and Ervin's destructive disadvantages outweighs her few benefits. She, even better than the average principal, establishes a PR team to flood the airwaves with all things improved to distract attention from core festering problems like scores. Inspiring principals inspire teachers and inspired teachers inspire students; now, just imagine how much more successful would our students be if teachers weren't beaten down if they refused to kiss her 'ring'. I pity the next school system & staff that buys her beautifully packaged Pandora's box because she's already shown 3 schools what's inside... At Sandtown MS, Fulton, was nasty, cruel & disrespectful to staff. At Westlake HS, Fulton, she was nasty, cruel & disrespectful to staff. At Lindley MS, Cobb, she was nasty, cruel & disrespectful to staff.
wigglewatch October 03, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Thank you for revealing the "real deal"!
wigglewatch October 03, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I guess Ms. Ervin has a history of being "nasty, cruel & disrespectful to staff". Well, this goes to say that you as a leader need to be humble and respectful toward your staff if you want a positive, nurturing environment. Unfortunately, Ms. Ervin did not promote this. This is why the same fear and intimidation she brought upon the staff, has come upon her. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
A local parent October 15, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I am a former parent and PTA officer at a school where Mrs. Ervin was principal. Without question, I can say that I did not always agree with Mrs. Ervin but not one day did a question her devotion to students and families. She is a visionary, educator and servant leader. She was not perfect, but I would take Sandra Ervin any day over any of the other principals that my children have had. I wish her nothing but the best and perhaps she will use whatever mistakes she may have made as opportunities for learning. My children's lives are better for having known her.
DeeRamsey June 14, 2013 at 05:51 PM
According to teachers who were subjected to Ervin's abuse, there IS documentation to backup all the abuse and fraud! She was forced to resign/retire or be fired! So all you folks who want to scream in ALL CAPS, you need to shut the hell up! She's under investigation for fraud because the kids collected money for fundraisers and Ervin would tell parents and kids that the money was donated to the charity, but when the charity was asked the amount, it was FAR from the amount Ervin had stated. She's a bully and a manipulator.
DeeRamsey June 14, 2013 at 05:56 PM
The investigators interviewed former and current teachers while looking into Ervin's actions. The investigators concluded she had to GO!! She was told to resign/retire or be fired!! PERIOD!! She is now under CRIMINAL investigation for pocketing the money from charity fund raisers, selling products to children for self profit (selling a $.50 cent pencil for $1 and pocketing the difference) and for various other spending irregularities. Look for her in a MUG SHOT sometime soon!!
DeeRamsey June 14, 2013 at 05:58 PM
They DID tell...hullo! That's why they are investigating her!!

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