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Apology letter in hand, Herndon gives job back

South Boston News
Albert Randolph / June 12, 2014
Albert Randolph is back on the job as Halifax County High School principal after Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon dropped a planned demotion, but neither this week is saying exactly what led to the course change.

Following a tumultuous School Board meeting on Monday night, Herndon emerged early Tuesday morning with a surprise announcement: Randolph had submitted a letter of apology to the superintendent, and with that he had his old position back.

In the letter to Herndon, Randolph, principal of HCHS for the past 14 years, said he was sorry “for acting towards you in a manner that you found to be disrespectful. I now understand that my actions caused you to make recommendations to the school board that were divisive to our community. I pledge to work with you to heal the damage this has done.”

The letter offered no specifics on the apparent dispute between the superintendent and principal.

Randolph also fixed his retirement date on June 30, 2015 and promised to work with his successor during the first semester of the new school year to promote a smooth transition. The search process for Randolph’s successor will begin soon, said Herndon.

Attempts to reach Randolph this week for comment were unsuccessful.

Having endured withering criticism at the Monday night meeting, Herndon on Tuesday declared herself satisfied with the outcome: “I’m pleased with this resolution, and I look forward to working with Mr. Randolph,” she said.

Randolph’s plans for the second half of the school year — commencing in January, following the holiday break — point to a major cause of the blow-up: the large number of vacation days that Randolph had accumulated.

He wrote in his letter that he plans to take off the entire second semester as vacation time, essentially giving HCHS two principals: one fresh on the job, one closing out a long career on earned break.

It is not the first time the school division’s vacation policy has been a source of consternation for Herndon.

Upon taking the superintendent position in July 2012, one of her first moves was to cap the number of vacation days at 60 that employees would be paid for upon leaving the system. The new policy went into effect July 24, 2012 — the same day, notably, that the School Board cancelled LORP early retirement incentives for senior employees looking to cut short their time in the system.

Since imposing the cap, the School Board has not paid any retiree for more than 60 days unused vacation. Six months after the policy went into effect, the Central Office issued a letter to 44 employees who had banked more than 30 unused vacation days. The upshot: Start taking time off before making plans to leave, because you won’t be paid for more than 60 days.

“Some people said, “Well, I’m going to lose a lot of days’ and we told them you need to start taking your vacation and systematically do this,” said Herndon.

She said the administration stressed that vacation time could be taken during summer and holiday periods when work demands were less pressing. Affected employees were those with 12-month contracts — a group that numbers about 160 and includes principals, associate principals, custodial, maintenance and transportation personnel, some school secretaries and employees of the Central Office.

“We specifically said to people …. we’ll pay you for 60 days when you retire or resign, but you need to bring those days down,” said Herndon.

Employees also were urged to space out their vacation breaks to minimize the impact on instruction and operations, Herndon added: “We can’t afford to have people out of the building for extended period of time.”

Prior to imposing the cap, she said, the school division had paid out “tens of thousands” of dollars to staffers with large chunks of unused vacation. In one instance, Herndon said the “upper end of the payout” was around $45,000.

In the apology letter to Herndon, Randolph notes that he will start taking his vacation days from Dec. 31, 2014 to June 30, 2015. He will be paid $424.57 per day while on vacation. His annual salary is $110,386.

His letter to Herndon, distributed in an e-mail from the Central Office Tuesday morning, reads as follows:

“Please accept this letter as my personal apology for acting towards you in a manner that you found to be disrespectful. I now understand that my actions caused you to make recommendations to the school board that were divisive to our community. I pledge to work with you to heal the damage this has done.

“I agree to accept a plan of action to improve administration at the high school with particular focus on instructional leadership.

“I agree to help the transition of leadership at Halifax County High School by training the assistants through December 31, 2014, at which time I will take vacation through June 30, 2015. I tender my retirement effective June 30, 2015.

“I hereby waive my rights to confidentiality as to these terms. I look forward to working with you in a manner that best serves the students of Halifax County, and finishing my career in a strong and positive manner.”

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A semester out of work is more than 60 days!!! Please explain the math!! Something still doesn't add up!!!!


It's not good business to make critical decisions because someone has, you think, been disrespectful to you. She should have reprimanded him and moved on. Nothing good comes from vengeance.


Cover up. Forced apology to get job back. obvious here.


All who know Mr. Randolph know that he didn't write that letter because he hadn't done anything to apologize for; it was a way for Herndon to save her face.


When is the school system going to learn to listen to the workers and not just place faith in the higher ups? Sounds like his contract could not be changed on vacation days. The military does this, it is called terminal leave. Lets hope that Herndon is gone after this year, and that we hire a local person to become supert. Larry Clark would have been great, but we let him get away, Pedro would have been good as well.


Excellent idea for Larry Clark. Clark gave most of his career working for the students and parents in Halifax County. At least since 1972 until 2012, I think. Maybe the school board could contact Larry Clark and have him advise the new superintendent until she gets up to speed.


It's obvious the lawyer wrote this letter and had Mr. Randolph sign it in order for him to receive his job back. Then to have Dr. Herndon do a press release behind it was a save face move. It won't work Doc!


I second that Mr. Sims. It's not gonna work for people with common sense! Does Dr. Herndon think we are stupid in Halifax County?


We need Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson here in Halifax County. This is a racist county!!!!!!!


I overheard from some that works in SB office that her next move will be against a public official's relative who works for the system. Someone in SB office overheard a conversation of the super with the top county official. Talking about retaliation against official and family member for supporting Randolph. Can this be true? Corruption, racism and collusion in the whole county not just the school board. WOW!


The "Supt. in Training" should learn from this event. Can someone find out exactly how much the attorney billed for his trip? ++++++++++ The real problem is a county problem. The county has lost many major employers so the tax base is less, money from the state is less, the residents that stayed are paying more in taxes. I think the Class of 2014 had over 100 less to walk than the class of 1974. Numbers don't work.


Please stop with the racism crap. Every time a black loses a job it is due to racism. Please. She did the same thing to two high ranking white employees last year. Why is that ok, but when it happens to a black, it has to be racism?


Look. I am White. I said corruption, racism and collusion. In relation to this matter, she involves all three and deals with all people. I work here at school board office. I know. I could get fired if my identity is revealed but I am tired of this lady.


If it's racism, where was their NAACP Monday night? They didn't speak!
NAACP leaders what is your opinion? Speak up on this matter! Thanks for not appearing Monday night. By not speaking it shows you know this was not racism. Good job NAACP.


Hail to the KKK and NAACP!


As a tax payer we need to remove her before lawyer fees break us for her action. Let us review 1) mishandled the retired workers money, 2) the rumored issue of someone stealing gas for private use on video, covered up, 3)teachers scared to death to go against her, 4) changing job descriptions depending on who is applying, 5)the high school principal issue, 6)misleading the school board, 7) from people in Brookneal say, if she likes you you safe if not she will remove you. I am glad none of my family is in the system


Come on dude, this county has a long record of getting sued by everybody. It's called NO LEADERSHIP!!! Herndon gone Herndon here, no matter, they will continue to make mistakes and get sued.


What kind of mess do you have in this place? Seems like your school board is inept. This superintendent needs to be replaced. It reached a point of being irreparable. What I see is a slander suit coming against the school system soon.


We are Stupid here. Look around. Kids are dumb and parents are dumber. The whole school board and faculty along with county officials are corrupt in this county. But what is new...we do live in Virginia.....


Her three-year contract calls for an annual salary of $140,000 and she will receive a car allowance of $500 per month. She also will be provided cell phone service.

She gets 21 days of annual leave excluding legal holidays and12 sick leave days per annum. Payment for unused earned sick leave days is capped at $5,000 at the end of the contract term and unused annual leave (maximum of 21 days) will be paid at the per diem rate.

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