KENLY – The Johnston County Public School Board has approved the hiring of a new principal at North Johnston High School. Following a special session Wednesday afternoon, the board approved a recommendation by Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy to hire David Hawks effective January 10, 2022.
Current Principal Tol Avery will be transferred to a new position, the Safety and COVID-19 Response Manager for Johnston County Public Schools. That transfer is also effective January 10th.
In June 2021, Hawks, a popular principal at the Durham School of the Arts (DSA) , was let go after the Durham Public School Board refused to renew his contract. Many parents said Hawks was an excellent principal. During his 14 years at DSA, the U.S. News and World Report ranked the magnet school as one of the best in the nation, and number 30 in North Carolina.
However, some parents reportedly complained Hawks helped foster a cultural climate that treated minority students differently regarding discipline at the school, according to a September 2021 ABC11 News story.
According to ABC 11, Durham mom Fatimah Salleh went viral on Facebook in 2019 when she posted about her experience sitting with her son, Michah, in DSA’s in-school suspension room: Two days, 14 hours in all, at a desk, facing a wall in silence with little school work. Eight of the 11 students were Black and Brown boys.
Hawks denied those allegations saying, “We are following, we were following the Durham Public School discipline code of conduct. We only hold children accountable irregardless (sic) of race, gender, everything,” Hawks told ABC11 in June.
Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bracy said Wednesday, “We are looking forward to working with both Mr. Avery and Mr. Hawks in a leadership capacity. Mr. Avery has served the North Johnston High community well, and will assist Mr. Hawks in his transition as Interim Principal through the end of this week. Mr. Hawks has more than 30 years of experience in education, including serving as principal at the elementary, middle, and high school level. We look forward to the strong skill set he brings to this position during our transition as we search for someone to permanently fill the role of Principal at North Johnston High.”
“While Mr. Avery’s skills as Principal at North Johnston High will be greatly missed, we look forward to all that he will bring to his new role as Safety and COVID-19 Manager for our district,” Dr. Bracy said.
According to a June 2021 article, Melody Moore, the mother of a 2014 DSA graduate, said her child, Kazu, underwent major brain surgery after being diagnosed with epilepsy in her third year of high school. Hawks allegedly did not respond to Kazu’s personalized education plan. Melody claimed Hawks had a desire to “push students with disabilities out of school.”
“In my impression, if you defend your child or your students defend themselves, you are on his bad list,” Moore said in the article.
Hawks was lauded in 2019 when a deadly gas explosion happened across the street from the Durham School of the Arts. He kept students safe and away from harm.
ABC 11: Parents shocked after board decides not to renew contract of popular Durham school principal
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