BONIFAY –Controversial recommendations made by Superintendent Terry Mears were met with dismay concerning a coach and an administrator at Poplar Springs School not being asked to return for next school year in their respective positions.
Holmes County School Board met in regular session May 15.
Vice Principal Stacey Thompson was not asked to return to the position but instead as that of a teacher for the 2018-2019 school year. Parent, Teri McPhail, addressed the board concerning this issue saying that after losing long-time Principal Gordon Wells last year they will now be have two more losses in Thompson and Coach Eric Smith. “My children have faced two major losses this year, and you mean to tell me that more may be ripped from them,” said McPhail. “School board members, our children have been scarred by the events that have transpired already. We implore you to hear our voice, we want our coach back.”
Another parent, Benny Bollon Jr., spoke of trying to understand why people who are doing excellent jobs are being removed from their positions.
“By all accounts our vice principal has been doing excellent jobs in his current position,” said Bollon. “So its hard for me to understand why he is being removed from that position.”
Bollon took the opportunity to remind Mears of one of his campaign statements.
“If elected, I promise to place the students above politics, Mears quoted to a newspaper,” said Bollon. “I’m not saying that politics are playing a role but I would like to remind the superintendent that this was a promise he made to us.”
According to Chairperson Shirley Owens, Thompson was not asked to come back as vice principal because of lack of leadership certifications.
“The superintendent can require administrators to have certain levels of leadership certifications for an administrative position,” said Owens. “Should one not have that, they will not be asked to return to that position.”
Poplar Springs Basketball Coach Eric Smith was suspended without pay for 30 in April for misconduct stemming from a verbal altercation between him and Principal Matt Tate.
Smith has not been asked to return for next school year; however, if he undergoes a psychological evaluation, he will have another opportunity to return, according to Owens.
“Any teacher that shows any signs of aggression is asked to undergo an evaluation for the safety of the students,” said Owens. “It is a standard practice.”
Smith has appealed the decision and the board approved moving forward with an administrative judge to hear the case.
In other business, the board approved payment of annual Florida School Board Association dues of $10,000. The funds will come from the general fund.
Holmes County School Board will meet again in regular session at 6 p.m. on June 5.