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Still no hire for Shining Rock school director position

Shining Rock Board Secretary Melanie Norman (left) and Chair Michelle Haynes listen to a speaker during a June board 19 meeting. Shining Rock Board Secretary Melanie Norman (left) and Chair Michelle Haynes listen to a speaker during a June board 19 meeting. Cory Vaillancourt photo

Six weeks after a set of grievances were filed against a Shining Rock Classical Academy administrator who appeared to be a leading candidate for the vacant head of school position, that position still remains empty.

The grievances, filed by three parents, alleged improper disciplinary procedures by Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan.

Back on May 7, then-Board Chair Anna Eason said she hoped to fill the position by May 23, but the grievances filed on May 8 prompted the school to “pause” the process in order to let the investigation conclude, according to current Board Chair Michelle Haynes.

“If a candidate has a current grievance, we allow the grievance process to be completed prior to making any decision,” said Haynes on May 22. “Again, we take all grievances seriously and follow the process outlined in the handbook. As with our legal system, all persons are innocent until proven guilty.”

During a June 6 special called meeting – held in violation of North Carolina transparency laws, because required public notices weren’t sent out by the school – Shining Rock Classical Academy’s grievance committee accepted the findings of grievance facilitator David R. Hostetler, the school’s board-appointed attorney who conducted the investigation into the claims.

In all three cases, Hostetler cleared Morgan of any wrongdoing.

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Hostetler said the board did post notice of the meeting on the school’s website — under the regular school calendar tab — and claimed the board posted a physical paper notice at the school, but did fail to send an email notification out to the sunshine list.

During that June 6 illegal meeting, the Governance Committee “ … unanimously approved the general findings, conclusions, and recommendations presented by the Grievance Facilitator to the [Grievance] Committee in closed session of that meeting” and further stated that “the conclusions contained therein represent a final decision in this matter.”

At the governing board’s regular meeting on the night of June 19, no mention of the Governance Committee’s actions occurred.

Later in the meeting, Shining Rock’s board went into a closed session per General Statute 143-318.11(a)(6) to discuss personnel issues.

After an hour, the board returned to open session and announced it had taken no action during the closed session.

Questions were emailed by The Smoky Mountain News to Haynes after the meeting, inquiring about the status of the hiring process, now that the investigation has concluded.

Look for more on this story in the next issue of The Smoky Mountain News, available online and on newsstands throughout the region on Wednesday, June 26.

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