NHS principal resigns

Published 12:03 am Friday, May 15, 2015

NATCHEZ — Will Smith, who was hired at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year as principal at Natchez High School, has resigned.

Smith is the second principal to resign from school’s top job in two years.

“I submitted my resignation today,” Smith said Thursday. “I cannot discuss it more than that because I am filing something. I am taking the proper steps to file a grievance according to district policy.”

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Natchez-Adams Schools Superintendent Frederick Hill said he would not confirm Smith’s resignation because he is prohibited from discussing personnel issues.

Smith said he plans to stay with the district through the end of his current contract, “as long as there is no retaliation against me.”

Smith, a native of Coahoma in the Mississippi Delta, said he does not have another job yet.

“I cannot tell you about a lot of things,” Smith said. “I notified my students and parents and staff this afternoon. I am proud of the successes at the school. However, the stipulations placed on me, I can’t continue with. You know about my visit to the hospital and I’m not going to keep risking my health because of the actions of the district leader.”

Smith attended the Natchez-Adams School District school board meeting Thursday afternoon. In addition, several students and parents spoke during the public comment portion of the school board’s meeting in favor of Smith.

“I was the first person (Smith) had to suspend and the first person that got close to him,” said Jalen Blackwell, a senior at Natchez High. “He’s just a great principal.”

Smith replaced long-time educator Fred Butcher at Natchez High School. Butcher was named principal at Natchez High in May 2013 and resigned unexpectedly on May 13, 2014, saying his last workday would be May 16, 2014. Butcher declined to comment at the time on the reason for his abrupt resignation and departure.

Butcher served 24 years as principal at Ferriday High School in the Concordia Parish School District before joining the Natchez-Adams School District as Natchez High athletic director in 2008, a position he served in for five years prior to being named the school’s principal.

One of the assistant principals who worked with Butcher at Natchez High, Shannon Doughty, filed a lawsuit against the school district earlier last month in Adams County Circuit Court claiming wrongful termination.

A former elementary school principal in the district, Cindy Idom, filed a federal lawsuit against the district last year.

Both cases are still pending.

Reporter Devonte Demby contributed to this story.