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Hudson resigns as Portal Elementary School principal
Remains jailed without bond in Effingham Co.
Paul D. Hudson

Portal Elementary School Principal Paul D. Hudson tendered his resignation Monday to the Bulloch County Board of Education, following his arrest Thursday night in Effingham County on a charge of criminal attempt to commit child molestation.

Hudson remains in the Effingham County Jail without bond.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson, who had suspended Hudson with pay Friday "pending completion of legal proceedings," updated reporters during a Monday press conference capping the first day of the 2016-17 school year.

"As of today, we have his written resignation," Wilson said. "I had an opportunity to visit with the staff at Portal again this morning. I did not have a meeting, but I was able to visit the school and just to say that that staff and that community are to be commended, the faculty up there as well. ... They really have just focused on those students and pulled together and are making sure that that school has a great start."

Asked if he had requested the resignation, Wilson said, "That's a great question. That was Mr. Hudson's decision, to resign."

The resignation, effective Monday, will need to be voted on by the Board of Education, Wilson said. The board's next scheduled meeting is Aug. 11.

The arrest of Hudson, 49, of Allenwood Circle in Statesboro, does not involve a Portal Elementary student but a purported teenager who turned out to be an undercover officer pretending to be a 15-year-old. After the Portal school's open house for parents and students Thursday night, Hudson reportedly changed clothes and drove to Effingham County to meet what he thought was the teenager and was instead met by deputies who made the arrest, Effingham County Sheriff's Office Investigator Joe Heath said Friday. The Effingham County Sheriff's Office Internet Crimes Against Children Division conducted the sting.

As of Monday, no court appearances were scheduled for Hudson, as the Effingham County Clerk of Courts Office had not yet received the warrant, Clerk Barbara Cauley said.

Wilson on Friday named PES Assistant Principal Laurie Mascolo as the school's acting principal. By Monday afternoon, the school system's webpage giving contact information for each of the schools said simply "Ms. Laurie Mascolo, principal" under the Portal Elementary entry.

"She will be acting as principal until a future decision by me and any discussion with the board," Wilson said in answer to reporters' questions. "At this point, she is the acting principal, and what our community needs to know and what the staff need to know is that Ms. Mascolo is in charge of that school, and the faculty and staff of that school are pulled together and focused on what's important for the students."

Asked if Hudson's resignation letter was available, Wilson said it must be received by the Board of Education for acceptance before being released. However, he said Hudson offered the resignation to be effective immediately.

Counseling promised to students, faculty and staff at Portal Elementary was made available, Wilson said.

"Over 400 students arrived today, and there was professional staff available, but what I can report to you that I saw was it was very calm this morning, and everyone was there to get to their classrooms and engage in the learning environment," he said.

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414. Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.



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