Principal seeks answers over demotion

Armand Hankins
June 13, 2012 4:01:25 PM PDT
An Orange County principal is searching for answers after he said his school district failed him.

Armand Hankins was demoted as principal at Orange High School. That action sparked protests and raised questions about the role race played.

Hankins is now at home with his daughter as his former teachers pack up their classrooms. He's a principal without a school.

"Unrest, it's caused a lot of frustration," said Hankins. "I don't know where to go from here."

Last week's graduation was Hankins' last act as principal. It was his final farewell after being forced out of his job. Hankins said he was blindsided when Orange County's superintendent informed him in May that he was being demoted from principal to assistant principal.

"I was really not able to process it at the time," said Hankins. "I just listened. I still felt that because of the accomplishments we'd made that when the board heard and looked at the decision they'd say 'let him continue with his work at Orange High School.' Unfortunately, that did not occur."

The numbers seem to show Hankins helped engineer a turnaround at the school. Since 2010, test scores and graduation rates are up. Dropouts and suspensions rates are down.

When some parents got wind of the board's decision, it sparked an angry online petition to save Hankins' job. Some even called the demotion racially motivated.

Superintendent Patrick Rhodes declined ABC11's request to speak on camera but the district insists race had absolutely nothing do with its decision. Hankins said he's just not sure.

"Others know the community better than I," he said. "I've been at Orange for four years. I don't know. All I know is I did well."

Hankins said he's not taking the demotion. He's looking for a new principal position.

"It's tearing me apart inside," said Hankins.

Hankins said he's filing a grievance against the school board.

This week, the district announced that Jason Johnson, who is also an African-American, will be the new principal at Orange High School.

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