Parents, students claim Hanover Co. principal's position in jeopardy

Parents, students claim Hanover Co. principal's position in jeopardy
Beth Smith has been principal at Patrick Henry High School since July 1, 2016 (Source: Twitter)
Beth Smith has been principal at Patrick Henry High School since July 1, 2016 (Source: Twitter)

ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - Students and parents at Patrick Henry High School claim the current principal's position at the school has an uncertain future.

Hanover County Schools spokesman Chris Whitley said Beth Smith has been the principal at Patrick Henry since 2016.

Tuesday afternoon the school board held a closed-door meeting to discuss employee performance, discipline and other recommendations by the superintendent.

While the specifics of that meeting, including who and what the board was addressing, were not released to the public, several parents and students said it was about Smith.

"It absolutely is," said Melissa Goodman, who came in support for Smith. "There is someone in there that 100% confirms it."

A group of at least 20 people gathered at the district building Tuesday.

They were only allowed inside the room at the beginning of the meeting, before the board entered its closed session, which is not open to the public.

"I can confirm that Beth Smith is currently employed as the principal of Patrick Henry High School," Whitley said in a statement Tuesday.

Meanwhile, some of the supporters did want to talk about the impact Smith has had on the school.

"Going on three years with the previous principal to her, in that one year difference there was a huge change," said Luke Gallagher, class of 2017. "Just people's morale, their personalities, everyone was just so much happier with Mrs. Smith at the school."

Per district policy, Whitley said if there were a personnel matter involving Smith, or any other employee, the district would not be able to discuss specific details.

However, this hasn't stopped parents and students from signing an online petition demanding answers from County officials.

"I believe there may be a lot of other people inside the school system that don't want her there that are ruffling feathers," Goodman said.

"I love the changes that Mrs. Smith has made at the school," said Andrea Oxendine-McNair, whose daughter attends the school. "You feel so welcome, you can call, you can ask a question. Whenever you go there she's always available."

"They had a community day at the school where everyone came and painted," said Patty Michalak, whose son graduated recently. "They volunteered their time to beautify, plant, and paint. We've increased the safety of the school."

"We understand that there is a lot of speculation and misinformation in the community that is causing uncertainty, which is truly regrettable," Whitley stated. "If any significant changes are made at Patrick Henry High School (or at any of our schools), we will communicate with families as quickly as possible, but not any sooner than is permissible by policy."

Messages to Smith were not immediately returned.

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