August 5, 2008

Knightdale Elementary Principal Demoted

By T. Keung Hui, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

Aug. 5--RALEIGH -- The Wake County school board demoted the suspended principal of Knightdale Elementary School this afternoon.

Michael S. Williams, 36, will take a pay cut from his $55,000 a year salary to become an assistant principal at Wakefield High School in North Raleigh. School officials say Williams, who has been suspended with pay since July 14, had asked to be reassigned to another school.

To replace Williams, veteran administrator Judy Dudley will become Knightdale Elementary's interim principal. Dudley, who was a Wake principal for many years before she retired, will be at the school from Thursday through Nov. 7.

School officials have not said why Williams was suspended, citing personnel regulations. Williams has declined to comment.

But the suspension and transfer are taking place at the same time that the state and the school district are investigating allegations that state exams were inappropriately conducted at the school this past spring.

School officials will not say whether the suspension is connected to the investigations.

The state end-of-grade exams in reading and math are used to determine school performance and bonus checks for elementary schools. The state Board of Education will announce Thursday which schools are eligible for bonus checks this year.

Michael Evans, a school district spokesman, said the investigation has not been completed yet. Vanessa Jeter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Instruction, said state officials were waiting for Wake to complete its investigation first.

Jeter said the state investigates about a dozen major allegations of testing violations each year. She said state officials are refusing to say whether the Knightdale case is a major allegation.

The school board announced Williams' transferring after discussing it behind closed doors this afternoon.

Williams has worked in the Wake school system since 1999. He became Knightdale Elementary's assistant principal in 2001. He was named principal in May 2007.

News researcher Susan Ebbs contributed to this report.

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