Principal to return to post

Published 6:35 am Friday, February 17, 2012

The Troy principal recently arrested for a driving under the influence and reckless driving arrest will return to work on Feb. 22.

Juan Henderson, 41, principal of Troy Elementary School, was arrested on Feb. 4 and was suspended Feb. 7, with pay, pending an investigation by the Troy City Schools.

On Thursday, Superintendent Lee Hicks said the decision had been made to suspend Henderson for 10 days without pay, effective Feb. 7, and to allow him to return to his principal’s position on Feb. 22. A formal letter of reprimand also has been added to Henderson’s personnel file.

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“We wanted to make sure we didn’t make a knee-jerk reaction,” Hicks said Thursday. “We wanted to know anything we need to know about this, and to make a decision from that.”

Hicks said he had consulted with school board attorneys, state Department of Education officials, and individual school board members in making the decision.

“While this does not have to go through the school board if Mr. Henderson agrees to it, which he has, all the board members have been consulted and are in agreement,” Hicks said. “They understand the severity of the incident and felt the punishment was sufficient.”

Hicks also said that Henderson likely would undergo state review for his certification, but the offense is not likely to prompt any further disciplinary action on the state level.

“We’re probably punishing him a little more severely than recommended because Mr. Henderson represents the Troy City System and has to be able to levy discipline himself to students.”

Hicks said this was Henderson’s first offense of this type and his effectiveness as an administrator and school leader played a role in making the decision to return him to the campus.

“The way (Mr. Henderson) has responded throughout this has been without reproach,” Hicks said. “He has accepted full responsibility and has used this to make himself a better person, which will in turn make him a better administrator.

“That’s what I had to look at – what is truly best for Troy City Schools and the students, because he has such an influence on their lives.”

Henderson, a graduate of the Troy City Schools, has worked with the district for nearly 13 of his 18 years in education. He started as a teacher’s aide before moving to an elementary teacher, assistant principal and eventually interim principal at TES. He left the system for five years, working in Nevada, and returned at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year as principal at TES. Hicks said he had received many calls and comments in support of Henderson since the incident occurred.

Henderson said on Thursday he was regretful and appreciative. “For every action there is a consequence, and I understand that,” he said.

“The bottom line is I’m sorry for the events that have taken place,” he said. “And I’m very appreciative to Superintendent Hicks and the board for allowing me another opportunity to get back to what I love – working with the students and faculty at the school.”

Henderson paraphrased a quote he said someone had shared with him during the past week. “It said basically that things will happen to us in life and three things can take place: one, it can define you; two, it can destroy you; three, it can strengthen you …

“I want to take this as something that will strengthen me and make me a better all-around person.”