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Durham's Hillside High gets new principal

Two months after Hillside High School Principal Earl Pappy resigned for unknown reasons, the school has hired a new leader.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Two months after Hillside High School Principal Earl Pappy resigned for unknown reasons, the school has hired a new leader.

Hans Lassiter has been named the new principal at Hillside, which has struggled with academics.

He comes to Durham Public Schools from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction where he served as a high school turnaround consultant for the past year.

Prior to serving at DPI, Lassiter was principal of Southern Lee High School for three years. He was principal of Perquimans County High School for the previous two years. Earlier, he was assistant principal of Southern Vance High School, while also serving as an instructor at Vance-Granville Community College.

Lassiter began his career in the early 1990s as a social studies teacher at Hillside, where he taught for three years. He also taught at Southern High School.

“This is an honor because I began my career as a teacher at Hillside, and it is a dream come true to be able to come home and work with many of the professionals who I remember from that time,” Lassiter said in a news release provided by the school system. “I have monitored Hillside’s achievements and their challenges and am very happy to see that the school met Expected Growth this year. I am excited to be part of Hillside’s continued upward mobility.”

Lassiter is scheduled to complete his doctorate in education administration and supervision later this year from North Carolina State University, from which he also holds a master’s degree in school administration. He earned his first master’s degree, in history, from North Carolina Central University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from North Carolina A&T State University.

“Hans Lassiter brings a rich tenure of experience in high school education and administration to his role as principal of Hillside High School,” said Superintendent Carl Harris. “Serving as both a principal at this level and as an evaluator of high school programs statewide have prepared him well for working with the Hillside High School teaching staff, students, parents and broader community as they strive for continued improvement.”

Pappy resigns, reason unknown

Pappy, the school's former principal, resigned in June. School officials declined to elaborate on the move, citing personnel privacy rules.

Pappy, 51, could not be reached for comment after the announcement.

The school system hired him in 2006 after he spent four years as a high school principal in Richmond, Va. He had improved student performance in Richmond, and Durham officials said they saw his no-nonsense, goal-oriented approach as the path to improving Hillside High.

A state judge has threatened for years to shut down the Durham school because of poor student performance.

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