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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575

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Principal transfers detailed
Personnel issues cited

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Officials with the Martinsville and Henry County school divisions say race was not a factor in two principals being assigned to other administrative positions, but that they cannot or will not discuss personnel issues.

The Bulletin contacted officials with the school divisions after receiving phone calls and a couple of letters to the editor questioning the moves.

Aji Dixon, who was the principal of Martinsville High School, was appointed to oversee Martinsville City Schools’ alternative education and dropout prevention program, and Garrett Dillard, who was principal of Bassett High School, was appointed Henry County Schools’ coordinator of regional alternative and student athletics. Dixon and Dillard, both of whom are black, were replaced with white administrators: Angie Weinerth as principal of Martinsville High School and John M. Gibbs as principal of Bassett High School.

Jared Cotton, superintendent of Henry County schools, stated in an email Monday: “As I stated in the past, administrators are reassigned from time to time in order to best meet the needs of the school division. It has never been and will never be based on an administrator’s race. In addition, it is not appropriate to discuss specific reasons for these decisions publicly.”

Dillard’s salary for 2013-14 is $85,869, the same as last year, Christy Landon, director of human resources for Henry County Schools, stated in an email.

Current and previous Martinsville School Board members made similar comments.

There was “absolutely no racial motivation, nothing. It’s a personnel issue, and we will not make any comment on that,” said Bill Manning, immediate past chairman of the Martinsville School Board. His last meeting as a board member was in June. He was unable to be reappointed, having served three straight three-year terms.

“State law prevents comments on personnel matters,” Robert Williams, vice chairman of the Martinsville School Board, said in an email.

Board member Carolyn McCraw said: “Personnel matters we do not discuss. And secondly ... the move of Mr. Dixon was certainly, and I say that emphatically, not racially motivated. .... Personnel is just that: It is personnel matters that we do not discuss.”

Schools Superintendent Pam Heath did not return a phone call or email, but Kim Buck said Monday she had talked with Heath that day and her response was, “... We’re not at liberty to discuss personnel matters.” Buck is the school division’s community outreach and grants coordinator.

The Bulletin requested information on Dixon’s compensation as principal of Martinsville High School and his compensation in his new position but was told by Buck that a Freedom of Information Act request was needed to get that information. The Bulletin filed that request Tuesday afternoon.

Dixon did not return an email, nor Dillard a phone call.


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