New Principal Named For School Recovering From "Cash For Grades" Controversy

Wayne County Public Schools has named the new principal for Rosewood Middle School.

The school has been in the center of a controversy over a 'cash for grades' program approved by the former principal. Susie Shepherd announced her retirement this week.

The new principal will be Mary Kay James, who is currently the assistant principal at Greenwood Middle School. She will take over the position effective December 1.

Wayne County schools officials say James is veteran educator with more than 29 years experience.

According to a news release, James "began her career in 1980 as a high school English teacher in Belhaven. She came to Wayne County Public Schools in 1986 as an English teacher at Charles B. Aycock High School. While working for the district she has served as an English teacher, a school counselor, and an assistant principal. Mrs. James has a bachelor’s degree in English education from Elizabeth City State University, a master’s degree in counselor education from East Carolina University, and a master’s degree in school administration from East Carolina University."

School system officials say: "Mrs. James’ educational and administrative background reflects her character, experience, and leadership skills needed to effectively lead Rosewood Middle School. She looks forward to working with students, parents, staff, and the community in her new role.”

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The principal who allowed students to get extra grade credit in return for donations is no longer with the school.

Wayne County Schools say Susie Shepherd went on annual leave for the rest of the month and will retired December 1st.

Rosewood Middle School came under the national spotlight when word of the cash-for-grade program first surfaced. The school system killed the program earlier this week.

For $20 in donations to the school, families would get 20 test points. Students could then apply 10 credits to two tests of their choice.

Shepherd had been principal at Rosewood since 2008 and before that as assistant principal since 2003. She made $69,468 a year with 29 years as an educator.

The school system says Shepherd's resignation is voluntary. “I met with Mrs. Shepherd on Thursday as a part of a district investigation into why a recent fundraiser was approved at her school,” states Dr. Steven Taylor, Superintendent. “At that time she informed me of her decision to retire at the end of the month.”

Taylor says Shepherd indicated that she already had planned to retire at the end of the school year.

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