St. Helena Central High coping with faculty turnovers

St. Helena Central High School has undergone significant changes due to the replacement of its principal and some teacher turnover, but district officials say the situation is under control.

The mother of a ninth-grade student confronted the School Board on Thursday night, saying her daughter frequently tells her no homework was assigned and no classwork accomplished because the class didn’t have a teacher that day.

“I’ve been told there’s a shortage of prolonged teachers or substitutes, so the students are haphazardly running around on campus and doing their own thing,” Yolanda Butler said. “I understand some board members recently stepped in to facilitate the end to such behavior, but I’m concerned.

“Is anything being done about getting teachers who would stay throughout the year?” Butler asked.

Superintendent Kelli Joseph said the school has had difficulty finding a permanent math teacher, and a Spanish teacher recently had to quit due to health concerns, but personnel shifts and new hires have filled the gaps.

“Turnover this year is actually lower than before,” Joseph said Friday. “And I’m expecting it to get better next year due to the salary increases from our recently passed tax.”

The bigger change, she said, is that high school Principal Lewis Sullivan has been replaced by elementary school Principal Reginald Douglas.

Joseph said she fired Sullivan, effective Feb. 4, “because it’s my job to make sure our kids have the best person in front of them every day” and because she wasn’t pleased with the progress the high school was making.

Douglas became principal of the high school effective Feb. 5. His position as elementary principal was then filled by elementary Dean of Students Cynthia Lee, who will serve as principal for the remainder of the school year, Joseph said.

The high school’s dean of students, Hollis Bush, has stepped in to serve as math teacher, a position he held prior to becoming dean and for which he is certified, Joseph said.

Newly hired Athletic Director and head football coach Brandon Brown will take on added responsibilities as disciplinarian, allowing for the elimination of the dean of students position, Joseph said.

“He should have started next school year, but we’re getting him in early because of the shortage,” Joseph said.

A new Spanish teacher also has been hired. With coursework for that class done primarily through an online e2020 program, the transition has been smooth, she said.

Likewise, a high school biology teacher who resigned effective Thursday already has been replaced, she said.

Joseph said she appreciates Butler’s comments and wishes more parents would come and voice their concerns.

“We need that type of support from our parents, and we’re going to do what we need to do to make sure our kids get what they need,” Joseph said.