Norton School Board has to regroup an administrative strategy it put in play this spring following the departures of the two people it expected to lead the elementary and high schools in the new academic year.
On the heels of the resignation of J.I. Burton High School's principal came the departure of the school's assistant principal, whom the board had tapped to become principal of Norton Elementary and Middle School. Long-time teacher and administrator Elijah Helton was gone before that could happen.
Meanwhile, the Norton superintendent also has confirmed the naming of an interim head football coach but won't discuss the status of embattled gridiron chief Jim Adams.
"Jacob Caudill is currently serving as the acting head football coach," schools chief Gina Wohlford said in a July 3 email. "I cannot comment any further, at present, regarding ongoing personnel matters."
Adams, whose coaching contract the board just renewed amid outcry both for and against, deferred comment to his attorney.
"The school board voted on June 10 to renew his contract and he hopes to fulfill that obligation in the fall," Adams attorney Steve Minor said.
"In the meantime, though, there's been additional information brought to school board's attention that they felt obliged to investigate, as they should do."
At the conclusion of that investigation, Minor said, Coach Adams expects he will be reinstated as the football coach.
Wohlford said the Burton principal vacancy for the 2019-20 school year has not yet been filled. Mike Goforth stepped down in June after just a year on the job to take the principal's position at Union High School, where he had been the assistant.
Norton Elementary will see Dr. Scott Addison maintain his top post there. Addison "has requested, and the decision has been made, for him to remain as principal at Norton Elementary and Middle School for the 2019-20 school year," Wohlford said.
NEMS counselor Melissa Kiser is the new assistant principal there and Brandon Stidham is the new assistant principal at Burton, moves taken in April and May of this year as the board navigated budget and jobs.
At that time, Addison was being moved for the new academic year to the central office to head up federal programs and technology, following the retirement of long-time division administrator Kaye Mink and the departure of technology director Greg Kiser.
Helton was headed to the elementary school to replace Addison. Helton had served with the city school division for 13 years, seven of them as assistant principal at Burton. He started his career as a civics/history teacher at NEMS.
Stidham, who has been with Norton City Schools for 13 years, was transferred to the high school to replace Helton as assistant and athletic director.
Kiser replaced Stidham.
All the moves were to have become effective with the new school year.
Adams had been notified his coaching contract was not being recommended for renewal by the school division's leadership team, which includes the two schools' principals and their assistants along with the superintendent.
That prospect drew outcry first, then came public sexual harassment allegations from several years ago against the coach from at least two former students — followed by others on social media. A board poised to follow the proposal to "go in a different direction" instead voted unanimously to renew Adams' coaching contract.
The board also transferred Adams to the elementary school to an unspecified teaching position.
The next Norton School Board meeting is July 15 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at the municipal building.