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Halifax County trustees take up Randolph move
SoVaNow.com / June 09, 2014A decision by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon to move Albert Randolph out of his longtime position as Halifax County High School principal is expected to be the major item of business when the School Board meets in closed session tonight to discuss personnel matters.
Out in the open, Randolph’s transfer is drawing protests from supporters — and raising the chances of a large turnout at the School Board meeting, set at the Bethune Complex in Halifax at 7:30 p.m. (The closed session begins at 6 p.m.).
Retired HCHS associate principal Deborah Griles is among those who say they may speak out at the meeting. Griles, who retired in 2012 after serving 12 years at Randolph’s side, said she has been asked by a number of people to attend the trustees’ meeting, but has not made a decision.
She does not hesitate, however, to defend Randolph following his assignment as middle school assistant principal — a move widely viewed as a demotion by Herndon.
“I was just speechless,” said Griles of her reaction towards the news. “I don’t think anyone who has given what he had given to the school system” should have been subjected to a demotion. “I question if this is another issue that [hasn’t] been thought through.”
School Board members contacted about the Randolph decision said it was made by Herndon, in her capacity as superintendent. “The School Board only has one employee, and that’s the superintendent,” said Phyllis Smith, ED-1 trustee.
She and Dick Stoneman, representing ED-7, both declined comment on the decision to transfer Randolph, citing School Board rules that personnel matters be kept confidential.
Stoneman, however, acknowledged that he has been asked several times if board policies on accumulated vacation and sick leave days may have factored into the decision to move Randolph to the middle school. Randolph, the principal for HCHS for the past 14 years, reportedly had accumulated a large number of vacation days, and teachers at the high school were told that he was planning to retire next year.
The School Board has capped at 60 the number of vacation days that employees can be compensated for upon existing the system; Randolph reportedly had many more vacation days accumulated. But asked to explain to how the vacation policy might affect Randolph’s status, Stoneman and Smith demurred.
“There will be a school board meeting [tonight] and all this will be addressed,” said Smith. “I really don’t want to comment on that.”
She added that the reasons for the decision “hopefully will become clear” after the trustees hold their discussions.
Stoneman noted that while the trustees have imposed limits on compensated vacation time, accumulated days follow the employee even with a transfer in position. He also said he had no answer for how the policy could have a bearing in the Randolph decision.
“I don’t check on people’s personnel records,” he said.
Griles, a recent retiree who joined a lawsuit brought against the School Board when trustees cancelled the LORP early retirement incentive plan, said she has no ill will towards anyone in the system, but she is critical of the way Randolph has been treated.
“He was so committed. The teachers and the students knew he was visible in that building, all the time. He was committed to instruction and to the students.
“Whoever moves into that building has some tremendous shoes to fill, and I don’t think they will fit them like Mr. Randolph, all things considered.
“So many hours, so much commitment — and all of a sudden, this is the way they address it, I’m saddened by it,” she said.
Both Herndon and Randolph were unavailable for comment this weekend.
Randolph also is drawing support this week from longtime friends Stanley and Wanda Jeffress, who penned an open letter of support. Wanda Jeffress is a real estate agent and serves on the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority; Stanley Jeffress is owner of Jeffress Funeral Home.
The letter, signed by both, notes that “While we are not privileged to all the facts that led to such action, and can only rely on the local newspaper articles, we find the decision contrary to the progress of Halifax County and its citizens.
“If the reason as stated by the press is accurate, and the matter is truly related to payment or use of vacation time, we respectfully ask the Board to analyze the decision and request that it be reversed.
Stanley Jeffress noted that he has known Randolph most of his life, since both “were raised in neighboring Charlotte County by families that were hard working, dedicated and principled in terms of education and employment.
“We have always been proud of his career accomplishments and know that he cares for and sets expectations of his students, and is a dutiful and loyal servant to our public school system.”
The letter goes on to state: “Here is a gentleman who has worked hard all of his life, is nearing retirement, and is demoted because he has not taken off earned time away from his responsibilities. Is this how we show our appreciation for his service?
“We believe that Halifax County is better than this,” the letter continues. “We should be about lifting each other up, rather than pushing one down. Please do what is honorable and just. Surely there is an alternative solution to this issue that will give Mr. Randolph his due respect and allow our school system to maintain its integrity.”
CommentsHe shouldn't have been demoted. Reversal will mean the end of Herndon's Superintendancy in Halifax. How many and who believes that will happen?????
- By JoeBlow on 06 / 09 / 14
CommentsHerndon is handling things by trial and error. This is what happens when you hire a superintendent and try to train her. Besides they can't demote Randolph----that's racist.
- By Trainer County on 06 / 09 / 14
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