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Randolph ready for return to HCHS

SoVaNow.com / June 23, 2014
Albert Randolph says he’s happy to be back at Halifax County High School and looking forward to a productive year ahead — his last at Halifax County High School, after presiding there as principal for the past 14 years.

About his recent clash with Superintendent of Schools Merle Herndon, and his transfer to the middle school as an assistant principal before being reinstated at HCHS, Randolph is saying little.

Randolph, making his first public comments on the controversy in a telephone interview Friday, said “there’s an agreement between myself and the superintendent that we wouldn’t discuss that [situation],” and added, “I’m satisfied to return back to the high school at this point.

“With my years of experience and success at the high school, I indicated it was my desire to complete the 2014-15 school year there.”

Randolph returns to the high school after weathering the near-loss of his job, a move that brought harsh public criticism of Herndon, who ordered his demotion to the middle school. The matter was resolved when Herndon received a letter of apology from Randolph and rescinded the transfer. In the letter, Randolph apologized to the superintendent for ”acting towards you in a manner that you found to be disrespectful” and that “caused you to make recommendations to the school board that were divisive to our community.” He declined to elaborate further on the nature of the dispute in the interview.

Asked whether he had offered the letter willingly, Randolph also declined to comment.

In the letter to Herndon, Randolph agreed to adhere to an administrative plan to improve instruction at HCHS. However, in the interview Friday, Randolph touted the quality of education at the high school, pointing to its full accreditation by the Virginia Department of Education.

He noted that during his 14 years at HCHS, “the majority of my [employment] evaluations have been good.” Asked if less-than-positive evaluations came from Herndon, he replied, “You’d have to address that question to her.”

While declining to directly criticize Herndon’s handling of the matter, Randolph said, “When the person [has] one of the higher roles in the school system, and with the record of success I’ve had at the high school, to be transferred — that is a concern.”

For the brief time that he had been assigned to the middle school, Randolph did not report to work there; instead, he took accumulated vacation days during the period.

Randolph confirmed that compensated vacation leave was “the original major issue” that prompted the dispute with Herndon, and he elaborated on his personal situation. He said he has accumulated vacation leave of less than 160 days, but between his vacation leave and accumulated sick days, he has “over 250 days” of banked employment time.

The School Board has capped at 60 the number of vacation days that employees will be compensated for upon their departure from the system. Randolph is one of four HCPS employees with more than 150 days of banked vacation days, according to Herndon. All employees with more than 60 days received letters in January 2013 explaining the vacation policy, along with a directive to start working off unused vacation days in a manner that would be least disruptive to school operations.

According to Randolph, that task can be easier said than done. He said his large number of days reflected his devotion to the high school and to his work.

Not taking vacation, said Randolph, helped him to make “sure that the school ran smoothly” and to maintain HCHS’s graduation rate, which improved during his tenure as principal. “I don’t recall missing more than two days back-to-back for either being sick or taking vacation,” he said.

The summer months, while seemingly better suited for taking vacation leave, is a busy time at HCHS, noted Randolph — with the onset of summer school, hiring of new staff, and preparing for the new school year.

Heading into the 2014-15 session, Randolph said he is committed to following through on a central pledge of his apology letter to Herndon — to work towards a smooth transition at HCHS under a new principal. Randolph is retiring at the end of the next school year.

“It is my desire to continue to do the very best job I can to prepare my administrative team, and to have the high school working smoothly during my transition,” he said. “I am committed to moving this school forward in a positive manner.”

Even by taking the second semester off as vacation leave, Randolph said he will forfeit a considerable number of paid days once he retires from the system. “I know I’m going to lose 70 days, and I know that I’m not going to be paid for that. But it’s part of my job — it’s part of a commitment to excellence.”

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Well said Mr. Randolph. You have done a great job and have dealt with this situation with dignity. Well done!

Comments

Halifax politics has NO leadership. This only shows what bad shape we are in around here for someone who is able to make intelligent and sound decisions. Can't just blame Herndon. Not one not two the whole damn crew!!!!!


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