Wayne County public schools weather leadership changes
Posted April 26, 2013
Goldsboro, N.C. — Change is on the way to the Wayne County school district.
Within the last two weeks, the superintendent and an assistant superintendent announced their retirements. Then, residents learned another former top administrator was arrested Wednesday.
Donald Sprunt Hill, 61, a former assistant superintendent, is charged with unlawfully accepting gifts and favors from contractors and suppliers while he worked with the school system.
Hill had been under investigation by federal, state and local authorities since 2009. He was put on administrative leave and retired the following year.
He did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday.
“I think it’s really wrong,” said Tracey Walker, who has children enrolled in the district.
School officials said the district has implemented new financial safeguards since the investigation began, including hiring a full-time auditor.
“After four years, the district is very much relieved that this investigation has been brought to a close,” district spokesman Ken Derksen said.
In the days leading up to Hill's arrest, Superintendent Steven Taylor and another assistant superintendent, Craig McFadden, announced their retirements, effective in July.
Officials said Taylor and McFadden have been with the district for more than 30 years and that their retirements have nothing to do with the investigation.
“We can’t control the timing,” Derksen said. “Both these gentlemen have announced their retirements, but (they are) completely unrelated and just nothing more than coincidence.”
Meanwhile, Derksen said, the district has been working to improve education and bolster the public's trust. The district's graduation rate has increased from 61.5 percent in 2006 to 80 percent last year.
Walker praised the district for its efforts.
“The education level has gotten a lot higher than it has been, and they’ve worked really hard with parents,” she said.