By Superintendent Joey Hassell
Several weeks ago, our district administration learned of social media posts by a number of Haywood High School students. These students failed to meet the high expectations we have for them in Haywood County. Upon learning of the posts, the superintendent’s office immediately requested information regarding the incident from the HHS administrative team. The district began an immediate in-depth investigation that included thorough interviews and statements from school administration, school staff, parents, and students. At this time, the investigation has been completed.
As a result of the completed investigation, the high school principal and an assistant principal have been reassigned effective immediately. Yvette Blue, Chief Academic Officer, and Chris Davis, Chief Special Services Officer, were at Haywood High School until the superintendent’s office hired a principal and an assistant principal. Mrs. Latonya Jackson will be the new principal and Mr. Steve Hookfin has been selected to serve as assistant principal at Haywood High School. Both will begin their duties at the beginning of the spring semester. Please see the Faculty and Staff page on the HHS site to see their background and qualifications. We believe both will be the right leaders to move HHS to an increased level of performance for staff and students and contribute to the future success of Haywood High.
While the district has been clear about its disciplinary procedures in a previous press release, the district is committed to protecting the privacy of our students and families. Students involved in the social media incident who violated school and district policies have been disciplined. We cannot elaborate further on student discipline.
Hatred, racism, and bigotry have no place in our school district. The school district will begin immediate steps to implement the following actions:
- Haywood County Schools building administrators will continue to be responsible for educating and training their respective staff and students annually as to the definition and recognition of discrimination/harassment as required by school board policy.
- All Haywood County Schools’ staff will participate in sensitivity training in dealing with students, their parents, and the community. This training should include acceptance and tolerance.
- Haywood County Schools will explore, adopt and/or develop an appropriate curriculum for all grade levels dealing with acceptance and tolerance.
- Athletic teams will be required to act appropriately when dealing with acceptance and tolerance. Coaches must expect and model appropriate behavior. The Athletic Director should monitor all teams to assure tolerance and acceptance.
- Haywood County Schools will continue to provide training in dealing with discrimination, harassment, bullying, cyber-bullying and intimidation and in reporting student concerns, complaints, and grievances to all staff and students.