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New principal named at SEB
Mill Creek Elementarys Trey Robertson recommended for position
BOE-Holloway for Web
Dr. Lewis Holloway
    In what appeared to be a surprise to even the Bulloch County School Board members, Bulloch school superintendent Dr. Lewis Holloway recommended Dr. Trey Robertson for the vacant position of Southeast Bulloch High School principal.
    Robertson’s new position will leave a vacancy in the Mill Creek Elementary School principal’s position.
    The announcement Thursday night followed closely on the heels of an official announcement April 13 that Holloway would not renew SEB high school principal Joni Walker-Seier’s contract, a move that had the Southeast Bulloch community up in arms.
    Seier’s position was posted on the school board’s Web site April 3.
    Holloway called a special meeting April 13. Following a public forum during which many spoke in support of Seier, the board went into executive session to discuss the matter. When they reconvened in open session, Holloway announced his decision and board chairman David Ball explained to the crowd that the board would not vote on the matter because the superintendent, by law, has authority to make decisions regarding non-tenured personnel.
    Administrators are not tenured in Georgia.
    A scattering of students and other community members attended Thursday’s meeting, wearing blue or gold ribbons emblazoned with the letter “S” to show support of Seier. Some students cried after Holloway’s announcement.
    As he made the announcement of Robertson’s being selected for the position, Holloway read from a prepared statement: “... Our students deserve the absolute best.  Our district is fortunate enough to have an internal leadership capacity of excellent school administrators ... It is my belief that when we have capable internal candidates, we should  turn to use them when we can.
    “For these reasons I find Dr. Trey Robertson fully capable of leading Southeast Bulloch High School to the levels of performance its students, parents, and faculty deserve,” he said.
    After the meeting’s end, the Statesboro Herald was able to contact Robertson regarding the new position.
    “I’m very excited about the challenge of working at Southeast Bulloch High School,” he said. “Brooklet is a great community, has great people, fantastic children to work with. Although I am saddened to leave Mill Creek Elementary, the challenge of a new school has me very excited.”
Parent challenges board
    Before Holloway’s announcement, even before the school board meeting officially began, Southeast Bulloch community parent Charles Howell spoke up and challenged board members to place him on the agenda in spite of earlier communication with Holloway in which the superintendent denied Howell’s request.
    Howell sent a letter by e-mail to board members and Holloway asking to be placed on Thursday night’s agenda. He provided the Statesboro Herald with a copy of an e-mailed response from Holloway in which the superintendent said “Board agenda items are set by the Superintendent and Board Chair. Individual board members may ask for an item to be placed on the agenda which must be approved by the board.
     “Students who have been expelled may ask for a hearing. Employees who are tenured and contracts are non-renewed may ask for a hearing. Employees who are dismissed for cause during a contract may ask for a hearing.
    “Individuals may not place themselves on the agenda. You may speak to the board under ‘persons to be heard’ but it can not include a personnel matter.”
    Howell reiterated a reply he made to Holloway by e-mail, telling the board he made the request in accordance with “Bulloch County Board of Education KCA,” and that he “made the request to be placed on the agenda rather than speak as a ‘person to be heard’ because I feel it would be best to have a record of what I intend to say.”
    He told board members he would not address personnel matters (Seier’s contract) but was concerned that the way the entire issue was handled by the board was not proper.
    He also addressed the issue of whether the SEB School Council would be afforded input on the candidates for Seier’s replacement.
    “We haven’t discussed anything about that yet,” Ball said.
    After further discussion about possible improprieties regarding the way the board handled Seier’s situation, and questions for school board attorney Gerald Edenfield, the board voted to allow Howell to speak and amended the agenda.
    After several other matters were addressed, Howell was allowed again to speak.
    He requested the board grant him a hearing regarding the way Seier’s non-renewal was handled by the board, citing Bulloch County BOE policy that provided the opportunity for a tribunall hearing for “any matter of local controversy.” He also said he felt the board “violated open meetings laws.”
     Edenfield countered that personnel matters were not included in the description “matters of local controversy.”
    Howell also told board members he wanted a hearing because he felt Holloway “improperly influenced” board members regarding Seier, “manipulated and withheld documents” and made “false and inaccurate statements” in Seier’s evaluation, calling Holloway’s actions “unethical.”
    “At the south end of the county, there are still burning issues,” Howell said. “The  board needs to hear further what I have to say.” He added that the issue began as a personnel matter but “ended up in an entirely different place.”
    Board members did not make a decision Thursday regarding Howell’s request.
Reaction to announcement
    After Holloway announced Robertson’s appointment to the SEB High School principal position, a handful of students reacted, some in tears.
    “They’re not interested in what’s best for the students,” said Chainey Canady. “They’re interested in their own self-interests.”
    The junior said she will graduate early in December due to Seier’s involvement and encouragement in her studies.
    But Holloway said he was looking forward to Robertson’s leadership.
    “Over the next few weeks we will begin working to build a relationship between Dr. Robertson and the Southeast Bulloch community,” he said. “We will be scheduling meetings with the faculty, parents, student council, and school council. Dr. Robertson will actively seek input on how the school is doing now and how it can become even better in the future.”
    Angie Howell, Charles Howell’s wife, pointed out Holloway’s decision was made without input from the SEB School council, in spite of a request from council chairman Thomas Sullivan and others to be included in the decision.
    In that letter of request, Sullivan asked “to be involved in the selection of any principal hired to fill the open position at Southeast Bulloch High School. This request is made in accordance with Bulloch County Board of Education Policy coded BBFA  ... ‘Whenever a vacancy occurs in the position of principal at a school, the superintendent shall consult with the school council as he/she deems appropriate to assist him/her in making a recommendation to the board.’”
    However, the policy makes the following clarification, which applied to Holloway’s recommendation that Robertson fill the position: “A vacancy occurs in the position of principal when the position is to be filled from applications submitted to the district and not from a reassignment of existing personnel.”

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