The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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November 10, 2012

Board votes to fire Johnson Elementary principal

(Continued)

Written notice

An allegation was repeatedly made during the meeting that administrators knew about the sign purchase in March and didn’t hold Lewis accountable. The acting superintendent at the time, Zebbra Green, declined comment about the allegation after the meeting.

Green, now an executive director of human resources for the system, and Rhonda Stringham, executive director of curriculum, was assigned by Limestone County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tom Sisk, to investigate the allegations against Lewis.

Lewis, who was placed on administrative leave Oct. 10 by Sisk, will be notified by writing within 10 days of the board’s decision Thursday to cancel his contract.

Lewis will then be asked to inform Sisk whether he plans to accept the board’s decision or petition a circuit court judge to review the case. During the meeting, Sisk, citing the Teacher Accountability Act, said his initial recommendation was to demote Lewis to his former position of assistant principal, but he said that Lewis didn’t have tenure as assistant principal to allow that option.

The principal's take

When it was Lewis’s turn to speak to the board, he stressed his record at Johnson and in the community, which included finishing first in the county the past two years in state assessment scores due to the “commitment from our teachers and drive of our students.”

He also implemented the “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” program at Johnson, volunteered with Head Start and coached for a youth baseball league.

“First, I want you to know that what I do at Johnson Elementary is in the best interest of the students, and I have a stellar record until now,” said Lewis, who was wearing a dark suit and a bright blue bowtie, a style that causes his students to participate in “Dress Like Dr. Lewis” days. “I would not do anything (intentional) to harm my family and my career at Johnson Elementary … I’m in the education business because I love to teach and to help lift students upward and toward their dreams.”

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