Grant-winning principal demoted, transferred

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May 10, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Some big money is headed to an Augusta middle school. Officials at Glenn Hills Middle announced today they've been awarded a $1 million grant.

But now the school's principal, who worked to get the money, has been forced to leave.

Glenn Hills Middle School has some of the lowest reading and math scores in the county, and some school board members say this grant will help bring them up. But because of No Child Left Behind, Principal Hartley Gibbons won't get a chance to see it happen.

It's no secret Glenn Hills Middle School needs improvement. For the last six years, it has not met adequate yearly progress, and because of a lack of physical education resources, the principal says obesity is a big concern.

Today's announcement that the school will receive a $1 million grant starting this summer was more than good news.

"To have our students do something to keep them busy during the summer, so they will not be going down on Fourth Street," said Augusta Commissioner Calvin Holland.

The money will come over the next three years from the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

School officials say the money will be spent on a summer academic program, an after school program, and a new track, outdoor basketball and volleyball court, and putting green.

Principal Hartley Gibbons is being credited with getting the grant. But at tonight's school board meeting, he was demoted to assistant principal and moved to Butler High.

"I don't feel like he's been given adequate time," said BOE member Barbara Pulliam. "He needs to be here a little longer."

The demotion recommendation came because after three years as principal, Glenn Hills Middle is still failing. Gibbons says until now, there's been no resources to improve.

"You must have the resources," he told News 12. "Without the resources, it is difficult for anyone to meet the demands placed on principals and administrators."

Right now, according to school officials, over 50 percent of the students at Glenn Hills Middle need after school help--but funding only allows ten percent to get it.

And while the BOE must comply with No Child Left Behind mandates, some school board members feel sending a man down who's finally bringing a school up is a wrong move.

"I think the tremendous gains he's made have shown, and I think he needs to be given adequate time to do a good job," said board member Joe Scott.

The grant will also pay for a suspension program. When students are suspended, instead of staying home, they would have to attend a special program in Barton Village.

Two other Richmond County principals were moved out of their jobs after the meeting. Rickey Lumpkin, former principal of Tubman Middle, is now assistant principal at Cross Creek High, and Janie Norris, former principal of Morgan Road Middle, is now the Title I Coordinator.

Also at the meeting, seven new elementary principals were named to replace retiring principals.

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