Principal unexpectedly resigns after meeting
Northumberland County’s School Board did its most surprising business after most of the public had left its March 11 meeting.
Following an executive session, the board accepted Northumberland High School Principal David Dixon’s resignation.
Dixon said Monday that he resigned effective May 3 to become the director of Hickory Ground Solution’s non-profit educational foundation. Hickory Ground Solutions is a large consulting firm now headquartered in Heathsville.
Dixon said he came into contact with Hickory Ground’s owner, Bart Morrison, when Morrison and his wife came to the high school in connection with a $10,000 college scholarship they have set up. He said he and Morrison hit it off and he wound up being offered the job.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Dixon noted, adding that he will not have to move although the foundation has activities in several states.
Dixon will have served as the high school’s principal for three years when he leaves May 31.
During the board’s open session, it spent 45 minutes listening to student presentations and a presentation by Northern Neck Technical Center vice-principal Todd Davis about the area’s recently acquired Governor’s STEM Academy that will be at the technical center.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the academy will offer courses that provide 10 transferable college credits along with a high school advanced studies diploma. Courses geared to careers in agriculture, natural resources, transportation and other areas of particular interest to Northern Neck students, Davis said. He noted that 75 percent of the new STEM Academy students are expected to get maritime or agriculture related jobs.
The academy will open in September and will have spaces for at least 144 students in grades 9 through 12.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rebecca Gates said she is thrilled that the region successfully applied for the academy. It will be one of 13 in the state, she said.
In addition to the Board’s usual business, Gerald Howard of the Northumberland NAACP’s education committee and members of the board, particularly Dick Saxer, got into a heated discussion about the board’s recent expulsion of two students.
Howard, who had been allowed to attend the executive session at which the Board discussed the case, said that both Sheriff C.A. Wilkins and the school resource officer had said the amount of marijuana found was so small that expulsion was too severe a sanction.
“I felt you not only made the wrong decision,” Howard said, “but you were also disrespectful to the families and the young men…It was really arrogant of the board.”
Howard’s three minutes to speak ran out and Chairman Betty Christopher cut him off. At that point Saxer stepped in and forcefully said, “We have a no tolerance policy for drugs, alcohol and weapons. This sets an example for other students.”
Dana O’Bier spoke in support of the board’s decision in the case.