South Pike High School will be under new leadership this fall.

Both principal Camita Dillon and assistant principal Derek Martin are no longer with the district.

School board members held a special meeting June 18 to hire Caprice Smalley to replace Dillon. Smalley was previously the principal at Seminary Middle School in Covington County.

Superintendent Dr. Donna Scott introduced Smalley at the board’s regular meeting on July 2.

Asked later about Dillon’s departure, Scott would say only that her contract was not renewed. She would not say whether Dillon was part of a discussion on personnel during an executive session held on June 4.

Minutes for the June 4 executive session say only that the board ratified actions taken in executive session, and do not say what those actions were or who was involved.

Smalley will be joined by assistant Montrell Moore, who was among the new personnel approved on July 2. Moore listed a Forest address on his application.

Martin, whom Moore replaces, submitted his resignation earlier in the spring.

Addressing other hires on the agenda July 2, board member Eva Andrews asked Scott whether the district might face consequences for the number of teachers with one-year licenses employed by the district.

Scott said there’s a limit on how many teachers can teach outside of their certified areas, but not on one-year licenses,

Federal programs coordinator Rochelle Collins said the district does not have enough teachers out of area to draw the state’s attention. “If we have teachers who get one-year licenses in the areas they’re teaching, we won’t be cited,” Collins said.

Two teachers, Shameka Green and Sharon Jackson, were hired at Osyka Elementary School with one-year licenses requested. Their full certification by the state is pending.

Andrews also noted a number of first-year teachers entering the district and asked how the district will help to support them through their first year.

Scott said principals will be observing those teachers closely, and the teachers will have peer coaching from their more experienced colleagues. The district curriculum director is also expected to work with those teachers.

“We have systems in place to support those teachers,” Scott said.

Geneva Holmes, Eva Gordon Upper Elementary School’s principal, added that she has scheduled training in math and reading instruction with Mississippi Department of Education trainers.

Board President Clara Conerly said the training will be valuable, but the district should be prepared to lose staff.

“We have had teachers walk into a classroom and leave after a week because they were not prepared,” Conerly said. “We all know it’s happened. That’s why we all need to work together and support each other.”

In other employment actions, the board:

• Accepted the retirements of bus drivers Xavier Hurst and Leslie Dawson.

• Accepted the resignations of teachers Cecilia Williams, De’Lisha Williams and Lynda Romack.

• Hired DeBorah Garfield as school resource officer; Raycheal Patterson, Julia Adams-Crane, Chervantis Lee and Gwendolyn Tavira as teachers; Jennifer Kirkwood, Candy Simmons and Mattie Ellzey as cafeteria workers; Barbara Matthew and Deanna Brumfield as interventionists. Patterson, Lee and Tavira are pending certification.

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