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Shining Rock hires new head of school

 Shining Rock Classical Academy Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan was offered the permanent head of school position earlier this evening. Shining Rock Classical Academy Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan was offered the permanent head of school position earlier this evening. Cory Vaillancourt photo.

More than seven weeks after a series of grievances were filed against Shining Rock Classical Academy’s interim head of school, board members voted to hire him for the permanent position.

Three parents had complained to Shining Rock’s board May 8 over what they said were Interim Head of School Joshua Morgan’s improper disciplinary practices. The hiring process was then paused by Shining Rock’s board so as to determine the validity of the complaints.

After an investigation conducted by Shining Rock’s own board-appointed attorney, David Hostetler, Shining Rock’s Governance Committee dismissed all three of the grievances during the closed session of a June 6 illegal meeting that violated public notice requirements.

A few days later, 43rd Prosecutorial District Attorney Ashley Welch declined to charge Morgan with any crimes related to a Waynesville police investigation into Shining Rock parent Kelley Messer’s contention that Morgan had been unusually forceful with her child during school.

In the intervening weeks, both supporters and opponents of Morgan were vocal in their assertions about his ability, character and fitness for the job.

After a two-hour closed session for personnel held the night of June 27, Board Chair Michelle Haynes returned to open session and asked for a motion to offer Morgan a contract. That motion passed unanimously. 

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Morgan becomes Shining Rock’s third head of school in the past four school years, replacing prior Head of School Nathan Duncan, who was terminated this past February after Shining Rock’s attorney found credible allegations of sexual harassment by Duncan.

Founding Head of School Ben Butler resigned without explanation in another illegal meeting for which public notice laws were violated, in October of 2017.

Morgan has his work cut out for him – since 2015, the taxpayer-funded school’s test scores have declined in each of the three years for which academic data are available, to the point that they’re not only well below the Haywood County average, but also below the state average.

Haynes refused to provide The Smoky Mountain News with a copy of the contract after the meeting had concluded, saying instead she'd email it. 

Morgan refused to answer questions after the meeting, asking instead that they be emailed. 

Look for more on this story in next week's issue of The Smoky Mountain News, available Wednesday, July 3. 

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