School Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow has released a new statement regarding the field house at Smithfield Selma High School. The condition of the building was made public by a concerned parent at the Smithfield Town Council meeting on March 1st. Test results later confirmed the presence of mold.
During the monthly school board meeting on March 8th, Chief Operations Officer Patrick Jacobs seemed to shift some of the blame for the condition of the building to current Principal Stephen Baker. Baker had allegedly not reported any of the problems to school maintenance staff and two years ago told Jacobs the building was no longer in use by students.
On Thursday, Dr. Renfrow said there is no intent to assign blame for the issues at SSS.
“With regards to the field house at Smithfield-Selma, our collective intention is not to assign blame to any individual(s) but to examine all sides of the opportunity. An important part of this process involves exploring the school’s view of events as well. We continue to review the events and are committed to improving this process as we move forward.”
“The students of this district are our greatest resource! It has always been our priority to keep them out of harm’s way as well as provide a safe learning environment for their overall success.Assignment of blame does not improve the process nor does it focus on our prime objective, the safety, welfare, and education of our students. Today, we stand united as one team, reflective and as committed as ever to continuous improvement.”
At the March 8th school board meeting, Chairman Larry Strickland issues two directives. Strickland requested a meeting be held as soon as possible between Jacobs and other school leaders with the SSS principal, parents, booster club members, and the advisory council to listen to their concerns and what they want done with the building. School Board Member Donna White asked the media be included at the meeting.
Secondly, Chairman Strickland ordered Ray Stott, Director of Athletics and Student Activities, to conduct an overview of all athletic facilities on school campuses, in an effort to prevent the same problem from occurring again.
School Board Member Butler Hall also asked officials to also investigate how the SSS Field House was allowed to get into its present condition.
Last week, WTSB News asked Public Information Officer Tracey Peedin Jones if Principal Baker did or did not follow proper protocol in the handling of the mold and other issues at the field house. Peedin said, “Presently, there are inconsistencies in our evaluation of the situation. We are conducting an investigation to determine how we got to this point. Stephen Baker has always been and continues to be a model employee for Johnston County Schools.”