School board OKs mentor for 3 middle school principals

School board OKs mentor for 3 middle school principals

January 22nd, 2010 by Kelli Gauthier in News

The Hamilton County Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to hire a mentor for three principals at middle schools some board members called "out of control."

Reuben Justice, a former principal at Orchard Knob Middle School, was hired for $350 a day to work with Dalewood principal Rodney Johnson, East Lake Academy principal Le Andrea Ware and Orchard Knob principal Maryo Beck to help with organization, discipline and curriculum.

Ms. Ware and Mr. Johnson were new to their positions this year.

"It is evident to me we've placed administrators in positions they were not prepared for," board member Everett Fairchild said. "Saying these schools are fragile is an oversimplification of saying these schools are out of control. We have to do something."

But board member Jeffrey Wilson said he thought there was nothing wrong with offering support to the principals.

"There's a big difference between needing mentorship or support and having a building that is out of control," he said.

The principals involved could be reached for comment Thursday night.

Board member Rhonda Thurman said she'd been told that the noise at the schools was unbelievable.

Area superintendent James Colbert said Dalewood and Orchard Knob enrolled 100 and 200 extra students this year, respectively, after Howard Middle School was closed. Putting Mr. Justice in the schools is more of a preventative measure, he said.

Mr. Fairchild said he was concerned that one person split among three schools would not solve the problem.

"My question is not whether there's a need for this, but whether we're asking of him something that's impossible."

Mr. Justice will be paid with federal money and his hiring will not affect the school district's general purpose budget, officials said.