Originally created 06/19/97

Byus among those promoted in Richmond principal changes



One of the largest mass transfers of Richmond County principals and teachers, completed Tuesday and much analyzed Wednesday, is a resurrection of sorts for one administrator.

Elizabeth Byus, "Libby" to her friends, will step back into an assistant principals' role in August, two years after she was demoted as Westside High School assistant principal for an ethics violation. Ms. Byus becomes assistant principal at A.R. Johnson Health, Science and Engineering High School, where she taught science during her probation.

"I guess I've served my time and I've been forgiven and I'm out of prison," Ms. Byus said Wednesday, laughing. Actually, "I have mixed emotions. I was very happy in the classroom there. Although I'm excited, a new challenge, I really kind of hate to leave the classroom."

Her promotion comes when Westside again has a new principal, this time David H. Smith, who moves from Langford Middle School. Ms. Byus was slated to become Westside principal in June 1995 but lost the job when she and another assistant principal were found to have given grades to student aides.

Gayle McGee, who ended up leading Westside in 1995, now moves to an assistant principal spot at Academy of Richmond County High School. Two other principals and consultants were transferred to jobs with lesser duties on Tuesday while 20 were promoted or moved laterally and two opted to retire rather than transfer.

Of Ms. McGee, Superintendent Charles Larke volunteered he is happy she agreed to stay on at the high school level. "Her talent in instruction is without a doubt great. It's great," he said Wednesday.

The moves, approved by school trustees without opposition, are larger than the usual shifting done each year, such as the 11 transfers approved in 1996. Dr. Larke must submit a new organizational chart for the 58-school system to trustees by June 30. The transfers represent the last major shuffling ordered in Dr. Larke's contract to take effect by July.

"I can't guarantee that all of these people will deliver," he said. "What I can guarantee is if I see, in one year, they aren't effective, I'll be back."

The principals moved to assistant principal jobs will keep their higher salaries because they are grandfathered in to the Georgia tenure law altered in 1995. If any of the promoted principals is demoted in the future, though, his or her salary will drop accordingly.

All 25 employees were told of their transfers Tuesday in interviews that kept Dr. Larke working on his changes until an hour before the board meeting. Each person had a chance to discuss his transfer but had little chance to argue against it, Dr. Larke said.

One of the transfers ensures a woman will be in charge of a Richmond County comprehensive high school again. Vivian Pennamon, to be principal of Glenn Hills High, takes over that distinction from Ms. McGee, who was the first, Dr. Larke said.

Dr. Larke called Ms. Byus twice in April to talk about the possibility of her coming back into administration. She expressed interest and he offered her the spot at A.R. Johnson, a magnet school for the sciences.

"It's unfortunate what happened," Dr. Larke said. "I always felt good about Libby Byus in her instruction. And I'm happy to have her back on the team."

But, so far, Donald Williams, the other former Westside assistant disciplined with Ms. Byus, is not on the team. Mr. Williams, now an in-house suspension teacher at Hephzibah Middle School, isn't sure he wants back, either.

"They kind of busted my balloon and I haven't recovered," Mr. Williams said Wednesday. "Right now there is no point in applying for anything because the best I could hope for would be what I had."