Patrick Henry principal out despite show of support from community

Patrick Henry principal out despite show of support from community
Updated: Aug. 2, 2018 at 11:47 PM EDT
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ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - A Hanover County high school principal is no longer employed at the school despite weeks of parents and students showing support for her at school board and county meetings.

Patrick Henry families, faculty and staff received an email shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday stating, "Beth Smith is no longer employed by Hanover County Public Schools (HCPS) and will no longer serve as the principal of Patrick Henry High School (PHHS)."

The school website has also removed her name from the list of school administrators. Her name had been listed on the website as recent as Wednesday.

"I'm just in shock at this point," said Melissa Goodman, who supported Smith. "Totally blown away that they think this is in the best interest of the kids and community. I just don't understand, if you had that much of the community speak out, is that listening?"

NBC12 obtained a copy of the email written by the school board chairman and superintendent. It comes following a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss employee performance, discipline and other recommendations by the superintendent. The meeting was continued to Thursday night.

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

A family member of Smith's was also seen at the closed-door meeting.

Goodman, along with several students and parents, waited outside of the room as the meeting lasted 11 hours on Tuesday.

"We understand that this news may be concerning, but we wanted to communicate with you as soon as we were permitted to do so by policy to help eliminate any further uncertainty in the community about her role and the future of PHHS," the email stated.

"This decision is definitely not in the best interest of the community," said Luke Gallagher, a graduate from PHHS. "The community has spoken and was not heard. There are facts proving that Smith has helped that school in a positive way that no other principal has. This is ridiculous."

The decision also comes following Tuesday's announcement of the hiring of Christopher Martinez as Assistant Principal at the school. Martinez transferred from Atlee High School.

"We will work as quickly as possible to identify and hire a well-qualified and experience interim principal before the start of the upcoming school year," the email states. "This will allow us the necessary time to conduct a thorough search for a permanent principal. During this process, there will be several opportunities for you to provide input on the qualities and characteristics you want us to consider in a new principal."

Specific details about Smith's dismissal from the school system are not immediately known. However the school board email stated the decision was made based upon, "...facts, policy, and, most importantly, what we believe is in the best interest of students."

The school board is scheduled to hold another meeting Aug. 14. Several parents and students have already said they will be in attendance to voice their displeasure about this announcement.

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