Buford City Schools has opened a search for a new principal at its high school for the third time in four years even though the most recent principal wanted to stay.
The district announced the resignation of former Buford High School principal Lindsey Allen on Jan. 21 in a press release that said Allen resigned for “personal reasons.” But according to an email obtained by the Gwinnett Daily Post through the Freedom of Information Act, Allen did not want to leave his post.
In the email to Buford City Schools Superintendent Robert Downs dated Jan. 17, Allen expressed concerns about handling future meetings given a “decision” earlier that day.
Allen wrote he was in shock, having received “all 3s and 4s on my evaluation and told I was doing a great job.”
“I was given no direction for remediation,” Allen wrote in the email. “No direction for what they would like to see changed or improved. I am simply being released without any opportunity to do either. I believe I have and would continue to add value to Buford City (Schools).”
Allen was officially hired in March 2019 to fill the shoes of former principal Ed Shaddix, who also resigned mid-year. During his approximately 10 months as Buford’s principal, Allen oversaw the school’s transition into a new high school building located off Buford Highway.
Brenda Whalen, whose two sons graduated from Buford High in 2019 and whose daughter is currently a senior at the school, was one of several parents of Buford students who expressed concerns about how Allen’s resignation was announced. During Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, she said she asked the board to explain why Allen was not meeting the district’s standards.
Board of Education and City Commission Chairman Phillip Beard and Downs both declined to comment on Allen’s resignation during the meeting.
“We thank you for your concerns, but it is personnel and we don’t discuss personnel in public meetings,” Beard said in response to Whalen’s request.
More parents of Buford High School students told the board they were frustrated with the lack of stability at the high school. Current seniors at Buford High that enrolled as freshmen have seen four principals in four years.
Banks Bitterman was Buford’s last principal with longevity, holding his post approximately nine years. He was announced as Buford’s principal in 2008, to replace outgoing Steve Miller. He told the Daily Post he was resigning in May 2017 for a job outside of education with an undisclosed company.
Shaddix, a former Gwinnett County Public Schools principal, was announced as Bitterman’s successor later that month. Documents obtained by the Daily Post show Shaddix resigned in March 2019, and Allen was officially appointed to the Buford High School. Bitterman and Shaddix oversee county athletics at Union County Schools and GCPS, respectively.
Scott Chafin, former Buford Academy assistant principal, was named Buford High School’s interim principal when Allen’s resignation was officially announced. Chafin worked for the Georgia Department of Education’s Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education division from November 2016 until June 2019.
Downs said a job posting for Buford High School’s vacant position opened Tuesday. Beard said Buford City Schools employees would be considered first.
“We do consider our employees first,” Beard said. “If we’ve got somebody on staff that’s qualified and wants the job, we’ll look at them because that in itself gives each of our teachers, each of our staff, a reason to strive to do better, and there’s always a promotion there if they work hard enough. If we go outside, well then you eliminate a lot of your staff that has given their lives to this community and this school district.”
When asked by someone attending the meeting whether the board was concerned that the most qualified candidate would not step up because of the recent instability at the school, Beard said he expects an abundance of applicants for the job.
“We appointed the gentleman interim at the high school, he’ll have the opportunity to stand with the rest of the applications we have,” Beard said. “There’ll be — true to form, if we put it on the internet — there will be 50, 60 people wanting this job, maybe more.”