New NJHS Principal Previously Accused Of Treating Minorities, Students With Disabilities Differently

David Hawks. ABC 11 Photo

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

ABC 11: Durham School of Arts parents, students sound off about principal David Hawks at board meeting

ABC 11: ‘It’s past time’: Some parents applaud move to remove principal from Durham School of the Arts


  1. Considering that the school has far more “black” or “brown” students, it makes sense that the number of boys sent to ISS were “black” or “brown”. I would be more concerned if the numbers were reversed! Demographic percentages do matter when you report this kind of crap! Reporters need to do better!

      • Sam, Do you know what black or brown includes? Almost 60% would be in that group. So 73% would be the number that were black or brown. Yes, it is higher than the population demographic for what would be considered black or brown, but they don’t tell you all the information. However, what if the numbers were reversed, what would that mean? One more kid that was not “black or brown” would have made it almost completely equal for the demographics! (Pull our your calculator:)

      • Sam, Brown or black would include Hispanics, African American and those of two or more races (most of the time). I did read the mothers FB post. If you want a true picture or what races were represented, you would need to get that from the school and not an upset parent. Also, note she doesn’t share what her son did! Trust me you don’t label kids as African American just because you think they are “black or brown” enough!

  2. So did they hire him as interim or permanent? The article says both! Either way based on his possible history he should not be principal.

  3. The ISS statistics say more about the black and brown population than it does the principal. What a trash article.

  4. Johnston County Tax Payers and Parents can you see now that the Socialist/Communist Democrat Board Members Mike Wooten, Todd Sutton, Terri Sessions and Al Byrd are stacking your schools with Durham City educators that will make sure Critical Race Theory is forced down your children thoats? They have not one ounce of respect for any of you parents and are bending over backwards to make sure you parents know it too. These school board members actually thinks you parents are so ignorant that you want remember these actions by the next election? Ask these board members the next time you see any of them why are they so supporting of importing these CRT Cult like Durham City Educators? Does anyone know what Johnston County High Shool will be allowed to have a Biden/Harris campain event this election?

  5. If JO CO report wants a story, why not question WHY a position was created for Mr. Avery shortly after the Thanksgiving break? Why wasn’t the newly created job posted with other potential candidates could apply and be considered? Why was his office vacated before Christmas break? Why not contact some of the many teachers who has application and had job offers at other schools many in Wake and Wilson counties why their leaving. Could it be Mr. Avery is NOT preforming his job, create this job so he wouldn’t be fired, why not less start with the SRO officer who was beat by four females’ where no school disciplinary action was taken. There is more to this story than who got the position or how long.

  6. I worked for Mr. Hawks for seven years and have had twenty different principals. He is the finest leader I have ever worked for. He is down-to-earth and willing to hold students, teachers, and leaders accountable. The hardest working person I have ever known. NJHS is blessed.

  7. The parents interviewed for the above article are not telling the entire story about their children. Best principal my children ever had and they went through 3 different Durham high schools. If I had young children still I’d move to Johnston County so my children could be in his school.

    • When parents have complaints like these, they rarely tell the entire story. They know the school has to keep it confidential or face a lawsuit. Could it be possible that some parents make these kind of post for just that reason? I don’t know. Maybe the demographics should show who has a father at home, who comes from a two parent home. Also, I am sure statistically speaking, boys get more discipline referrals at school, no matter the ratio of boys to girls. Girls are just more sneaky!

  8. Shannon, you are correct, ** ********** with as autism already had an assault, sexual in nature, happen in Johnston county schools in first grade and nothing happens, no policy, changes, nothing, yet you hire someone, all be it,accused of this behavior. Further shows the contempt of this system. Shame on Dr Brice short sightness.

    • They don’t care about the children and this proves it. I wrote them with my concern and have received no response or anything

Comments are closed.