James Blair Middle School has been under the direction of not one, but two principals in its first year, and now a permanent principal has been approved.
On Tuesday, the Williamsburg-James City County school district approved Crystal Haskins to start as principal at the school beginning in July.
Haskins will take over the position for Corey Murphy, who had been acting principal after the demotion of Ty Harris.
In February, the school board demoted Harris after a series of complaints from parents about bullying at the new middle school. Harris was reassigned to the position of associate principal and kept his salary of $105,060. He is the only associate principal in the district.
Under Virginia policy, a principal can be reassigned within a division so long as their salary is not impacted for that school year.
Eileen Cox, spokeswoman for the district, said there has not been a decision made on whether Harris will remain in that position or not.
At the end of this school year, Cox said the school board will look at the needs in the division to assess certain positions, including Harris’.
“At this time, Mr. Harris is fulfilling a need at [James Blair] and we will see how that goes as the school year continues,” Cox said.
Cox said while Haskins has not signed her official contract yet, the board has set her salary at $97,000. Typically, a contract will be signed in the weeks following school board approval of the hire, Cox said.
It was unclear Thursday why the new principal’s salary is lower than the current associate principal’s pay.
Since Harris’ reassignment, Murphy had been taking on the duties of principal in addition to his responsibilities as WJCC’s chief of staff.
Beginning in July, Murphy will be able to focus on his original position again as Haskins takes over.
Haskins will finish out this school year as principal at Dozier Middle School in Newport News. At Dozier, Haskins helped the school earn Standards of Learning accreditation with the state, which is what James Blair aims to do in the next year.
She began her career in 2004 as a teacher before moving into administrative positions.
This will not be her first time in a WJCC school. Previously, Haskins has worked as a seventh-grade teacher, minority achievement coach and student advancement coach at Toano Middle School as well as served as an assistant principal at Jamestown High School.
“Anytime you have someone who is able to come home and have that knowledge, it makes that transition that much easier,” Cox said.
In addition to holding a master’s from Regent University and an educational specialist degree in educational leadership and policy from George Washington University, Haskins will continue to work on her doctorate at Old Dominion University.
Cox said Harris is expected to receive her master’s degree by December 2019, meaning she will still be working on her degree when she starts her new role.
There is some tuition assistance offered to staff, Cox said, and if Haskins decides to, she could apply for reimbursement once she starts as principal.
Cox said once Haskins starts, her focus will be on creating a strong community of education at the school.
“I am passionate about establishing and sustaining a positive school culture,” Haskins said in a news release. “That is essential to move a school forward academically and for students to thrive emotionally.”