At Columbus High, students welcome news of principal's reinstatement

Like a home crowd cheering a touchdown, the Columbus High student body erupted in celebration Wednesday moments before the final bell. It wasn’t a Blue Devil score but a 7-1 vote by the Muscogee County School Board that led many students to declare victory.

News of Marvin Crumbs’ reinstatement as principal, announced about 3:21 p.m., was widely welcomed at 1700 Cherokee Avenue, where students strode to their cars with broad smiles and fresh Facebook fodder. Crumbs had been re-assigned for playing comedian Ron White’s “You Can’t Fix Stupid” act during a staff meeting, a video clip that drew administrative objections for its crude references to breasts.

Students protested the temporary loss of their leader, demonstrating on school grounds and publishing their disapproval on social media websites. Their message seemed to resonate at the central office Wednesday as school board members convened in special session and voted to overturn the action taken by departing Superintendent Susan C. Andrews.

“The most eloquent voices I’ve heard have been the students of Dr. Crumbs,” School Board Chairwoman Cathy Williams said. “Not just the students at Columbus High, the students who have known him as their principal or their assistant principal at other schools.”

Some parents also spoke up for Crumbs and encouraged their teenagers to make their opinions known in a civil manner.

“The kids see worse on TV,” said Rebecca Langford, who was reading about the controversy over White’s clip as she waited to pick up daughter Allison, a freshman at the school. Andrews may have overreacted, Langford said, “because it’s Columbus High, and they’re supposed to be top of the line.”

The mood outside the school was triumphant Wednesday afternoon. A sport utility vehicle drove down Forest Avenue with the Twitter hashtag #crumbs scrawled on the back window.

“I think they realized they were a bit too hasty in their decision,” said Mark Yanoschik, a 17-year-old senior. “We’re just proud because he’s a man of character and a good principal.”

Walker Johnson, a 16-year-old sophomore, wore a black T-shirt bearing the phrases “You Can’t Fix Stupid” on the front and “But Crumbs Can” on the back.

“We thought it was Mission Impossible, but it was definitely successful,” Johnson said of his peers’ efforts. “We’re glad that he gets to come back and all this hard work has a good ending.”

Freshman Nancy Hatcher said her classmates had mixed feelings about the student body’s reaction to Crumbs’ reassignment.

“Some people thought all the protest and stuff was a little bit of an overreaction,” she said, “but some people thought it was necessary.”

LeighEllen McCormick, a junior, said plans for a student march to the central office on Macon Road risked taking it too far.

“In my opinion, I think if we would have marched down to the school board we would have had negative” publicity, she said.

Yanoschik, the senior, said student involvement won’t end with Wednesday’s vote. He supports the renewal of Crumbs’ contract as well.

“I think people are going to keep supporting him because we don’t want just a short-term thing,” he said. “We want him as long as he wants to be here.”

Staff writer Mike Owen contributed to this report