Local News

Wilson County School Deals With Aftermath Of Principal's Resignation

Posted April 20, 2006 9:58 a.m. EDT

— Speight Middle School was empty on Thursday while the students enjoyed their spring break. However, the school has gotten some unwanted attention while they were gone. Principal Jeremy Stevens resigned Saturday after he was arrested on a charge of DWI.

Superintendent Dr. Larry Price sent a message to parents and staff, saying: "I am sorry that Speight has had to deal with the issues surrounding Mr. Stevens in recent weeks. However, I am grateful that the faculty and staff worked together to keep Speight Middle School focused during this difficult time."

Stevens had returned to school this month after a paid leave and participation in an employee assistance program following a previous DWI arrest in February.

Tim Jones' daughter attends Speight. He is saddened and surprised by the second arrest.

"He had a meeting with the children after he came back to school after his 30 days off and told them he was going to quit drinking and all that or try to," said Jones.

Court records show Stevens was also arrested twice in the mid 1990's for DWI, but only convicted of one offense. After his February arrest, Price issued a statement, saying in part: "There were no circumstances that would have disqualified Mr. Stevens from his initial employment, and there are none now that would warrant anything but uncompromising support for Mr. Stevens and his family."

"He was a pretty good principal," said Jones. "The children all seemed to like him and respect him."

When students return to campus next week, Assistant Principal Vernita Smith will be head administrator at Speight. School officials say she will lead the school for at least the rest of this year.

Wilson County School Board members say they are concerned about the incident, but personnel matters are decided upon by the superintendent. School officials say it is standard policy to allow an employee to return to work after completing an alcohol assistance program.