PITTSBORO — Dr. Emily Bivins has been named interim principal of Chatham Middle School. She will transition to her new role on Monday, Jan. 2.
Bivins has been a teacher, a school administrator and a central office administrator. She is the former principal at Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe, an elementary dual language (English-Spanish) school in Chapel Hill. She has been a principal for 15 years in dual language schools, and previously been a central office administrator and primary teacher in several rural and suburban areas of North Carolina.
Bivins holds a bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University, a master’s from Elon University and UNC-Chapel Hill and a doctorate from UNC-Chapel Hill. She has contributed to several books and is an active blogger about dual-language leadership. She also serves as an adjunct professor at East Carolina University in educational leadership.
Bivins was named Principal of the Year for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in 2018 and has been recognized for her work in bilingual education in a variety of publications and conferences.
During her time as principal at Frank Porter Graham Bilingüe, an inappropriate touching incident between two kindergarten students occurred that led to a lawsuit filed in November, which accuses Chapel Hill-Carrboro school officials of dismissing allegations that a male kindergarten student bullied and assaulted a female classmate in 2019. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the lawsuit claims a 5-year-old girl faced repeated harassment, sexual assault and bullying from the boy at FPG. The male student was not removed from class or disciplined, and neither school nor district officials followed their policies for handling assault reports, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges the school took a “dismissive response” to the incident and that Bivins did not respond to questions from the mother of the girl during the time of incidents. The mother in the lawsuit asked the school to acknowledge the assault and implement a safety plan before letting her daughter return to class, it states. A school counselor later gave a “safe touch” lesson to the class, but the male student was allowed to remain and also went on a field trip that the female student did not feel safe attending, the lawsuit states.
The mother removed her daughter from the district and enrolled her at a private school, the News & Observer reported.
Chatham County Schools says it is aware of the situation.
“Dr. Bivins shared information last week with Chatham County Schools officials when she was made aware of a lawsuit being filed against the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools district, where she formerly worked,” the district told the News + Record in a statement. “We want to make very clear that the lawsuit was not filed against Dr. Bivins. This is a civil matter, not a criminal lawsuit. Dr. Bivens has served as an interim principal and Dual Language curriculum consultant supporting many of our schools for the past two years. Inquiries about the lawsuit should be directed to CHCCS. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
“I believe education is the equalizer in our society. Every student deserves to have the highest quality experience for learning,” Bivins said. “I look forward to supporting Chatham Middle School during this transition and I am excited to be a part of the Chatham County Schools’ community.”
Chatham County Schools Superintendent Dr. Anthony Jackson said he was excited to have Dr. Bivins at the helm.
“The skills Dr. Bivens brings to her new role will enable Chatham Middle School to continue to grow and progress,” he said. “Her expertise is valued and will benefit the students and staff at Chatham Middle.”
Bivins succeeds Chad Morgan, who resigned his position earlier this year to pursue other opportunities.