Published: Jun 16, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jun 16, 2012 04:14 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - Orange High has a new principal, even as the old one fights to get his old job back.
Jason Johnson, the principal of Gravelly Middle School from 2006-11, will replace Armond Hankins, who filed a grievance Tuesday over his May 14 demotion to assistant principal at an as yet unnamed school. Hankins had previously said he did not plan to accept the demotion.
Johnson formerly served as an assistant principal at A. L. Stanback Middle School from 2001-04. Most recently, he has been working with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction as a school transformation coach, where he worked with school principals across the state to improve student achievement and learning environments.
“Orange High School is known for excellence throughout the state of North Carolina and I am looking forward to helping build upon the school’s extraordinary reputation,” Johnson said in the Orange County Schools news release.
Johnson was the 2009-2010 Principal of the Year for Orange County. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in educational leadership at UNC-Greensboro.
“He is a proven leader, with a strong history of improving academic success by increasing expectations for students and staff members alike,” Superintendent Patrick Rhodes said in the release. “We are confident that he will be able to take Orange High School to even higher levels of success.”
Johnson was a computer skills and business teacher in Chatham and Guilford county schools before joining A. L. Stanback Middle School as an assistant principal. He served as a principal with Guilford County Schools from 2004-2006.
A group of parents and others have signed an on online petition supporting Hankins and suggesting race was a factor in his demotion, after the departure of other black administrators in recent years. The school board has said race was not a factor in the decision. Johnson and Hankins are both African American.
There is no mention of race in Hankins’ written response Tuesday to the evaluation that led to his demotion – a response addressed to Rhodes that concludes with the filing of his grievance.
In his response, Hankins addresses communication and procedural issues cited in the evaluation, among other items. He maintains that issues and complaints during his two-year tenure were relatively few compared to other principals.
“I believe from the information I have received that complaints are down specifically from the mid-year point to the final review,” Hankins writes. “I further believe that a comparison of issues/complaints during my period as principal in comparison to other principals, would find mine to be lower.”
Hankins lists academic and overall achievements at Orange High School during his two-year tenure, including higher SAT scores, designation as a School of Distinction with High Growth and 76.8 percent fewer suspensions.
In closing with the formal filing of his grievance, Hankins’ response notes that his demotion will reduce his pay by more than $2,300 monthly. According to the school district’s grievance policy, adversely affected terms or conditions of employment are among the allegations that a grievance may include.
The grievance process includes a meeting, investigation and finally a written response within approximately two weeks of the filing. The employee filing the grievance may appeal the final decision to the school board.