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Zebulon charter school headmaster dismissed from post

The governing board of East Wake Academy fired Brandon Smith Thursday evening amid claims by two female employees that he inappropriately touched them.

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ZEBULON, N.C. — The governing board of a Zebulon charter school on Thursday evening fired the school's headmaster amid claims by two female employees that he inappropriately touched them.

The board of directors for East Wake Academy met in a closed session for more than an hour before announcing its decision to dismiss Brandon Smith from the post that he held for a decade.

Smith, who had been on paid leave since March 14, has not been charged with any crime, but Zebulon Police Chief Timothy Hayworth said that the two women filed sexual battery complaints against Smith and that investigators are still getting information about other possible victims.

Smith and his attorney, James Hairston, have denied the allegations. They had no comment Thursday evening.

Edward Williams, an attorney for the board of directors, said parting ways was the best thing for the school.

"Brandon Smith is a fine school administrator," Williams said. "(But) at this time, the board has decided they are going to go in a different direction with new leadership."

Charlotte Kelly has a grandchild at East Wake Academy and said Thursday that she supports Smith.

"He was pretty much railroaded," she said, adding that she believes Smith is responsible for making the school great. "I see some outsiders, and a few insiders, trying to ruin that, and that saddens me."

Last week, police seized computers from Smith's home and office, and Hayworth said investigators are going through thousands of emails on the machines.

According to the search warrants, both employees claim that Smith inappropriately touched them, and one of them told authorities that he solicited her for sexual acts.

One woman told investigators that Smith sent her emails about the allegations and that her work email had been reset in an attempt to keep her from accessing the messages.

The allegations aren't the first for Smith. In the late 1990s, a female teacher at Githens Middle School in Durham, where he was principal at the time, claimed he made sexually suggestive comments, kissed her and grabbed her. Smith resigned from the Durham County school system in 2000.

Prior to working in Durham, Smith was an assistant principal at Enloe High School in Raleigh from 1990 to 1993, according to the Wake County Public School System.

It's still unclear why he left there.



Adam Owens, Reporter
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor
Kelly Hinchcliffe, Web Editor

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