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Superintendent cancels classes at CHS Monday and Tuesday in response to violence at the school, announces interim principal | #schoolsaftey

UPDATE Monday, Nov. 20: City Schools Superintendent Royal Gurley has selected an interim principal to lead Charlottesville High School while the district conducts a search for a permanent replacement.

Kenneth Leatherwood will begin “immediately following the Thanksgiving Break,” Gurley said in a letter to the school district community Monday. Leatherwood replaces outgoing principal Rashaad Pitt, who announced he was resigning earlier this month.

Leatherwood is “a man whose deep relationships in our community and long experience in our schools make him uniquely qualified to help us move forward,” the letter reads. “In fact, in the two weeks since Mr. Pitt announced his resignation, Mr. Leatherwood’s name has been sent to me over and over as the ‘right person for the job.’”

Kenneth Leatherwood, for Charlottesville High School principal, will serve as interim principal starting Nov. 27. Photo courtesy of Charlottesville City Schools

Leatherwood is a former CHS principal, and has also worked as a coach, teacher and administrator in the district from 1981 until he retired in 2012, according to Gurley’s letter.

City Schools has posted the CHS principal position and is accepting applications.

“Unless there is a mid-year availability of an excellent candidate, the likeliest scenario is for Mr. Leatherwood to remain at the helm of the school until a new principal begins work in July,” Gurley wrote. “We anticipate screening candidates and beginning interviews in late winter.”

UPDATE Saturday, Nov. 18: City Schools Superintendent Royal Gurley announced that classes at Charlottesville High School are canceled Monday and Tuesday.

Teachers and staff are still working.

Gurley made the decision with the School Board at a closed door meeting Saturday. In an announcement later that day, he said he hopes the closure will “allow administrators and staff to continue planning for a ‘reset’ of school policies, procedures, and culture so that we can return to our core purpose — offering a safe learning environment in which our students will grow and thrive.

“The goals for the two teacher workdays will be to allow for further review and improvements of safety protocols, better understanding of the expectations and disciplinary procedures within CCS’s Student Rights and Responsibilities, increased clarity around the division’s accountability expectations, and continued attention to staff well-being.”

Read the district’s full statement here.

PREVIOUSLY, Friday, Nov. 17: After abruptly closing Friday, City Schools Superintendent Royal Gurley announced that Charlottesville High School will reopen as usual Monday.

The sudden closure came after 27 teachers coordinated a “sick out day” in response to escalating violence in the school. Thursday afternoon, there were two back-to-back fights, one of which involved an adult who came onto the campus. Police were called and arrested an 18-year-old, Gurley said at a late Friday afternoon news conference.

Logo reads "Short & Important"

The school district spent Friday coordinating a response to the teacher sick out and by 2 p.m. they posted a plan.

“On Monday and Tuesday, CHS will meet on our regular schedule (two singleton days),” the plan reads. (Singleton days refers to the high school’s bell schedule.) “We will have additional supports in place at the school, including central office staff as well as the Charlottesville Police Department making exterior patrols on campus. Following staff feedback, we have also made some improvements to how employees will offer coverage at the front door and throughout the building.”

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