Interim Rock Hill Superintendent Howard resigns

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

After less than four months on the job, the interim superintendent for the Rock Hill Local School District has handed in his resignation.

The district's high school principal will fill in until a new interim superintendent can be found.

Lowell Howard's letter of resignation was given to the board in their packets for Tuesday evening's meeting. It was effective at the end of the work day Monday. Howard did not attend the board meeting and was not immediately available for comment.

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"Thank you for the opportunity to serve the Rock Hill Local School District," his resignation letter stated. "I wish you the best of luck in the future."

By a 3-2 vote, board members then passed a resolution that allows the board to appoint an assistant superintendent as acting superintendent, provided that person has valid certification for the job. If he or she does not have a superintendent's certification or if the district does not have an assistant superintendent - which is the case in the Rock Hill district - then the board can appoint an acting superintendent from among its list of principals who possess valid certification, starting with the high school principal, followed by middle school principal and elementary school principal. Board members Lavetta Sites, Wanda Jenkins and Paul R. Johnson voted for it. Members Jackie Harris and Troy Hardy voted against it.

The board followed this resolution with another one appointing high school principal Steve Lambert as acting superintendent. The vote on that

resolution was also 3-2. Board treasurer Chris Robinson was directed to start the search process for an interim superintendent.

The move to put Lambert in the top job did not come without debate. Harris wanted to know who wrote the resolution, and why it was on the agenda now.

"This is a pretty weighty decision, it shouldn't be made within an hour's time," Harris said.

Sites countered that other districts have this sort of plan in place in the event of illness or other vacancy in the superintendent's position, and it makes sense Rock Hill should have such a plan.

"We should have had this in place long ago," Sites said. "… We need a policy like this for the treasurer also."

Harris contended the resolution amounted to a change in board policy, which requires a 30-day notice and the consent of four of the board's five members.

Sites contended it was not a change in board policy and did not require the consent of four members.

When asked, Robinson said Howard had recommended the resolution and that Bob Cross, of Cross Management Consultants, who has a contract with the board, had approved it as well.

Vickie Evans, an assistant principal at the elementary school, said she took offense to the idea that the high school principal would be in the line of succession ahead of the middle and elementary principals, since all three positions are on the same line in the district's personnel flow chart.

Both Lambert and elementary principal Freddie Evans have superintendent's certification; middle school principal Wes Hairston's certification is pending since he recently completed necessary qualifications.

Lambert stressed he is "not after anyone's job" but is willing to do the double duty as both principal and acting superintendent as long as the situation is temporary.

"I already have one position but if you need (this) so people get paid and to do P.O.s (purchase orders), then I'm here to do that," he said. "…We'll try to keep things going if we can, take care of financial things. I'm not the superintendent, I'm just filling in until there is one."

Lambert and Wes Hairston said the resolution was a surprise to both of them, but Hairston expressed confidence in Lambert's ability to pinch hit when he is needed.

"Steve will do a good job," he said.