New Sullivan County policy to prohibit principals from serving as coaches

Rick Wagner • Apr 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Come the start of the 2010-11 school year in Sullivan County, head principals no longer can serve as coaches or athletic directors.

That change, which would bar Mary Hughes Middle School Principal Bryan Mason from continuing his current position as a coach, was approved Thursday night by the Sullivan County Board of Education 6-0 with one absent.

School system spokeswoman Janie Barnes said Mason is the only principal Central Office staff know about countywide holding an official coaching or athletic director’s title, which includes a stipend for the extra work.

She said a common misperception is that North High School principal and longtime former football coach Richard Carroll is athletic director there. Richard Pendleton performs that duty for North.

Director of Schools Jack Barnes, in recommending the policy during the BOE meeting, said he was in no way questioning the performance of any current or past principal/coaches or principal/athletic directors.

Barnes said the change was needed because of the increased rigor of testing and academic requirements in Tennessee under the umbrella of the Tennessee Diploma Project. He said principals have increasing demands on them as the lead educator for their schools.

“Growing principal leadership demands such as curriculum, accountability, instruction, availability to teachers, students and parents have placed time at a premium,” Barnes wrote in the recommendation to the BOE. “In order to focus a principal’s time on school leadership beginning the 2010-11 school year, the role of coach and/or athletic director will be assigned to other personnel.”

Without naming Mason, Barnes said he knew of only one person who would be directly affected by the new policy, although he said others may have some related duties but not be the official athletic director or coach.

BOE member Jim Kiss of Bloomingdale pointed out assistant principals are commonly coaches and athletic directors, and the new policy would not affect that.

Historically, Janie Barnes said many assistant principals have been athletic directors.

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