Mayflower super asks principal to ‘move on’

By Tammy Keith Originally Published June 13, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 12, 2013 at 10:04 a.m.
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Superintendent John Gray said last week that Mayflower High School Principal Jeff Cagle has been asked to leave the district.

Gray said he mailed a certified letter to Cagle but would not reveal its contents.

“We politely asked him to move on; it wasn’t working out,” Gray said.

The superintendent said Cagle has 30 days from the time he receives the letter to appeal the decision.

Cagle, who lives in Conway, has worked in the Mayflower School District for a year, Gray said.

Cagle’s contract will be up June 30, Gray said.

At approximately 1:30 Monday afternoon, Cagle answered the door to his apartment in Conway.

When asked if he had received a certified letter terminating his position and why he was being terminated, Cagle replied, “Who said that?”

Asked again if he received a certified letter from the superintendent, Cagle said, “Right now, I’m not going to say.”

He started to close the door, but he said, “All I’m going to say is I got a contract for next year.”

Gray said Monday that he couldn’t discuss Cagle’s situation or whether Cagle had signed for the letter.

“It’s all up in the air,” Gray said last week. “We’re still communicating.”

He said no board action is needed at this time, and the position is not being advertised.

“Officially, no principal position is vacant,” Gray said.

The Mayflower High School website lists John Pipkins as acting principal. Pipkins is the district’s middle-school principal.

“I needed someone to help up there to get organized,” Gray said.

“He would be the acting principal for the high school until we make an appointment.”

School board member Terry Turner said he was aware that Gray sent a letter to Cagle.

“He told [board members] that he gave him a letter — we don’t know what’s in the letter, what it said, the reasoning,” Turner said.

However, he said he trusts Gray to do what he thinks is best.

“I’ve always supported Mr. Gray in the past,” Turner said. “I’ve not talked to Mr. Cagle.”

Cagle’s last administrative position before Mayflower was as high school principal in the Carlisle School District. He resigned, citing health reasons, according to an Associated Press article.

Gray said he was aware of that.

“[The health issue] was all over when he applied with us,” Gray said.

Cagle was fired in 2002 from the Palestine-Wheatley School District for allegedly performing a strip search on six students to find missing money, according to an Associated Press article.

He was principal of the district’s high school in Palestine, but he was filling in for the principal in Wheatley, the article states.

A subsequent Associated Press article states that Cagle filed a lawsuit in St. Francis County Circuit Court against the school district for breach of contract.

A spokesman for the circuit clerk’s office in Forrest City said Tuesday that the lawsuit was dismissed in May 2005.

Gray said he also was aware of the incident before hiring Cagle.

“I got a little trouble out of that,” Gray said. “It was a long time ago. I called some references about it. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it because it was such a long time ago. … I got good references on that. I was told it was fine.

“When I made the recommendation to the board, I plain forgot to mention that to them. It came out through the grapevine, and the board said they would have liked to have known about that.”

He said the 2002 incident had no bearing on why Cagle was being asked to leave now.

“It’s a difficult time to give details — it’s in the time he has some rights, and people can appeal decisions,” Gray said.

“I’ve made a decision, told Mr. Cagle that decision and we’re in a 30-day waiting period where we see what’s going to happen.”

Cagle, who lists on his Facebook page that he is from Palestine, was also a middle-school principal in the Wynne School District.

His Facebook page as of Tuesday listed his employment as Mayflower High School principal.

Karen Hoskins, who was Mayflower High School’s assistant principal, took a position as assistant K-12 principal in the Guy-Perkins School District.

Mayflower’s assistant middle school principal’s position is also open, and applications are being taken for it. Gray said Courtney Jones resigned from that position because her husband took a job in Fayetteville.

The superintendent said the only “unusual thing, or disappointing thing” is the high school principal’s position. “The rest of it is natural moves and changes people make,” he said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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