Heated Town Meeting on Principal Issue - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/19/03

Heated Town Meeting on Principal Issue

A meeting last night was the next round in a fight over a school principal, Cheryl Peterson, forced out of a job at Liberty County's Bradwell Institute. Teachers as well as residents are outraged, and they are speaking out. They couldn't take much action officially, since the meeting at the Liberty County courthouse was designed as a town hall brainstorming session, but several hundred people did set up a plan of action to get their favorite principal back.

The parents, teachers, friends and students who support Peterson turned out in numbers, many of them still confused as to why a newly appointed principal would be forced out just two weeks after taking the helm, and why she was even appointed if school board members knew she was being investigated.

Peterson was asked to resign Friday because of misappropriation of funds at another school by another person, but since she was in charge at the time, she was held responsible. State Rep. Al Williams (D-Hinesville) was in attendance and asked those gathered, "Is it a capital offense? Do we take a person's livelihood?"

Supporters passed around petitions, exchanged contact information for school board members, and talked about different strategies they'll use to fight this issue in the coming weeks.

Superintendent Steve Wilmoth declined an invitation to come to the meeting, and most of the school board was absent as well. Cheryl Peterson never actually stepped down as requested, nor did Sam Wilson, who was also asked to resign over the issue. They both stayed away from the meeting as well, on legal advice.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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