ASHLAND, VA (WWBT) - A retired Hanover County Public Schools employee is temporarily coming out of retirement to serve as interim principal at Patrick Henry High School.
Paul Cash was appointed to the position Tuesday night during the Hanover County School Board meeting.
His appointment comes weeks before the start of the school year and one-and-a-half weeks after Beth Smith, the former Patrick Henry principal, was let go.
"We are fortunate to have Mr. Cash serve as interim principal while we conduct a thorough search for a permanent principal," said Superintendent Dr. Michael Gill. "We value the community's input in identifying the skills and characteristics the next principal should possess to best serve all students at Patrick Henry High School."
Cash retired from HCPS in 2013 after serving as assistant principal at PHHS and later as director of the school board office.
Gill said prior to Cash's career in education, he was a 27-year veteran in the U.S. Navy, retiring with a rank of Captain. He also holds a bachelor of science degree from Auburn University and three master's degrees.
Several PHHS parents and students are upset about the removal of Smith from the high school. It's believed the decision was made at a closed-door board meeting August 2.
"Totally blown away that they think this is in the best interest of the kids and community," said Melissa Goodman, who supported Smith. "I just don't understand, if you had that much of the community speak out, is that listening?"
Smith served as principal at Patrick Henry from 2016-2018.
While the school board searches for a new principal, the community is asked to share their perspectives with the board in two ways.
"First, we will launch an online survey once school begins that will remain open through the end of September to collect information," Gill said. "Second, we will be holding four focus groups in late September."
According to the plan, one focus group will be reserved for students, another for faculty and staff, and the remaining two will be for parents and other community members.
Gill said a separate email after school starts will be sent with links to sign-up sheets. Space will be limited to 50 participants in each of the focus groups in an effort to create a thoughtful conversation.
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