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Jordan may appeal termination

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education may hear another appeal from an assistant principal whose contract was not renewed this year.

On Aug. 3 after a 12-hour personnel hearing, the school board upheld a recommendation from Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews, and consequently their vote from May, to not renew the contract of Dr. Sylvia Jordan, who worked at the Newton County School System for about 15 years, most recently as assistant principal at Newton High School.

Jordan's attorney Janet Hill of Hill & Associates P.C. in Athens said Monday that she has 30 days to file an appeal.

"She is considering her options," Hill said.

The school board decided at the recommendation of Mathews and NHS Principal Craig Lockhart that Jordan would be part of a reduction in force at NCSS. Two assistant principal positions -- one at NHS and another at AHS -- were eliminated as part of the RIF, and other positions and programs were cut in other departments, to save about $8 million to avoid a budget shortfall.

Jordan "demonstrated an inability and an unwillingness to provide the leadership necessary to serve in an administrative capacity," according to a letter from attorney Phillip Hartley, who represented NCSS in last week's personnel hearing.

Lockhart and other school administrators testified last week that Jordan was often late or did not attend school, system and parent meetings without notice; failed to follow through on projects; and lost trust with teachers and fellow administrators because of her actions and unprofessionalism.

Jordan asked to instead be transferred to another school instead of being terminated, but Mathews said he didn't feel comfortable transferring unsatisfactory administrators to other locations to solve a problem.

Before working at NHS, Jordan, who also worked as principal at Clements Middle School and later assistant principal at Alcovy High School and previously in other positions, had communication and personnel issues dating back to at least 2007, according to an Open Records request filed by The Citizen.

Although she received a satisfactory leadership evaluation from former NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley in June 2007, he charged her to work more with parents and improve her communication with central office staff. He also asked for information in a more timely, concise and accurate manner.

Whatley also expressed his concerns with her communication and organization in August 2007, after lack of communication led to not filling vacant positions at Clements when she was principal. He scolded her for not returning phone calls in a timely manner, not keeping accurate records and not communicating properly with central office staff.

In January 2009, Jordan just escaped receiving a professional development plan after receiving a score of 79 on an evaluation for having school Criterion-Referenced Compentency Test scores decrease in several areas and having an increase of fighting violations and classroom disturbances at the school. If the school had not made Adequate Yearly Progress that year, she wouldn't have received 5 extra points to eliminate her from being put on a plan.

In July 2009, she received a letter from a system administrator discussing her problems with being late with paperwork and to central office meetings, as well as most of her staff feeling that school administrators not feeling as they collaborate with them.

When Jordan was at Alcovy for a few weeks at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, school Principal LaQuanda Carpenter sent Jordan three letters of redirection dealing with her being late to meetings and not following directions or being organized.

In September 2009, Whatley approved Jordan's transfer from Alcovy to Newton High School after Carpenter expressed her concerns about Jordan's performance. In a letter to Jordan, Whatley charged her to work "cooperatively, professionally and willingly" with the NHS administration and to be on time.

"You are being given a fresh start," he said in the letter. "If, in this new environment, you continue to manifest a hostile and uncooperative attitude, I will be forced to respond appropriately, which certainly may include consideration of a recommendation of termination of your employment or a decision not to recommend your employment next year."