Lowcountry principal controversy could affect school bond referendum – WSAV-TV
HILTON HEAD, S.C. (WSAV) – A Beaufort County principal remains on paid administrative leave, suspended for what she allegedly did after hours inside the school.
Now, that controversy could affect more than Hilton Head High School as some parents say it could change minds on an upcoming school funding referendum.
“By losing her, we are losing our foundation at this school,” said Valerie Fader, Hiton Head parent. “Losing her is really devastating to this Island and this community.”
“Students, parents, teachers and support staff all behind her, wanting her to come back, its a very strong statement,” explained Carolee Hutton, Hilton Head High parent.
Amanda O’Nan current sits at home, suspended with pay. She is accused of having sex with a Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dejuan Holmes inside the school after hours back in 2016.
She was cleared the first time of wrongdoing by an investigation in 2016.
But a recent sheriff’s department interview with then-deputy Holmes led Beaufort County School Superintendent Herb Berg to place O’Nan back on leave. He also asked the state Board of Education to investigate.
This treatment of O’Nan is what many parents are upset about.
“Aside from the fact that Amanda supports them and Amanda sees their games and is there at all of their events,” says a defiant Hutton. “What she does in her personal life doesnt really matter to (students).”
“Amanda runs the school in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable, everyone feel safe, everyone feel led,” says PTSO President Audrey Clayton.
Jen Fielding, Assistant Chair of the School Improvement Council, said bringing O’Nan back would send students the message to stand up for what you believe in and treat everyone equally.
“The children would in all likelyhood find inspiration, they can always rally behind the underdog. And right now that’s what she is,” she said.
Local parents say the Beaufort County School Board needs to back one of its own, giving them an ultimatum.
Parents and other community members are threatening to not back them at the ballot box in November when it comes time to vote for a new school referendum — and more money for schools.
“The lack of trust that we had in the last two referendums in the past hasn’t seemed to change,” said Clayton. “So I don’t know that we will be on board. I dont think the Island will be on board unless Amanda, unless everything gets put back the way it should be.”
Hutton said everyone she has spoken to agrees, including those who don’t have children at the school.
“They are disgusted with what’s happening, they are disgusted with the fact they have no information from anyone — that we are just left to hang,” she said.
“So the message to board is what?” News 3 asked.
“Bring Amanda back tomorrow,” Clayton said.
Because the investigation has been sent to the state, the Beaufort County Board of Education may not have the final decision. But the parents say the board’s words of support and opinions could go a long way and not force their hand at the ballot box.
This will be the third time in three years that the bond referendum has gone to the polls. Both previous times the bill has failed.