MARIETTA — The Cobb school board on Thursday approved several leadership appointments and reassignments, among them Pebblebrook High School’s principal, who without knowledge of his superiors in May, informed his staff of a possible threat to the school’s students.
Travis Joshua, Pebblebrook’s principal, will be reassigned to Lindley Middle School, effective July 1. Joshua will switch places with Lindley Middle School’s principal, Dana Giles.
Giles’ annual salary will increase from $113,550.66 to $123,579.79 with the move, while Joshua’s will remain unchanged at $121,775.04.
In May, Joshua placed his school on high alert after a South Cobb High School student was shot by a teen Joshua identified as a former Pebblebrook student.
In his emailed letter to all Pebblebrook staff, Joshua said the former student and suspect in the shooting, later identified by police as Myliek Dunn, was expelled from Pebblebrook High School earlier this year and assigned to the Ombudsman alternative school in Cobb County. Joshua said Dunn had also been expelled from Ombudsman.
“There is concern about retaliation and as such there will be a greater Cobb Police presence in the area and on campus today. Please keep all students in class today and only write a pass in the event of an emergency,” Joshua wrote. “In the past, (Dunn) has been seen on campus even though he has been expelled. If you happen to see (him), please immediately notify the main office so that they can alert our police officers.”
Dunn had not yet been captured when Joshua sent the letter. The teen, who is being charged as an adult, later turned himself into the Cobb County Police Department, according to Officer Neil Penirelli, a spokesman for the department.
Joshua’s reassignment comes in the wake of his sending the letter without informing his superiors.
Joshua did not respond to a request for comment.
School board Chairman David Chastain declined to comment on the personnel move, but said the decision was made by Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and his staff. Chastain said the board is supportive of their decision making.
School board member Randy Scamihorn also declined to comment on Joshua’s reassignment, saying the issue was a “personnel matter,” which could not be discussed by members of the board.
Trey Hutchins, Pebblebrook’s PTA president, said to his knowledge, the reassignment is not related to Joshua’s actions in May. Hutchins said Joshua has come to the end of his five-year tenure at the high school, which he said is a typical timeline for principal reassignment.
He also said, with large construction projects looming at the school, the district wanted to assign a principal who could best manage those projects.
“I believe the district is committed to making sure that the right leaders are in place at the right time. That’s usually what this is. They make a lot of changes often, and this is just one of those things,” he said.
Yet Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators, said following the meeting that “the timing of his transfer definitely looks questionable.”
“I think he’s an excellent principal. I think he has run Pebblebrook incredibly well, and, to my knowledge, he has the full support of his staff and the community. And I think that goes a long way, particularly in these difficult times for Pebblebrook,” Jackson said.
She also said that she is not aware of a standard length of service that results in principal transfers.
“I’ve seen principals transferred at all stages,” Jackson said.
On Friday, Nan Kiel, a spokeswoman for the school district, provided an emailed statement to the MDJ:
“Despite recent media speculation made without asking the district, all principal reassignment recommendations are made to best serve all 114 schools in Cobb County. We are proud to support Principal Joshua. Parents can accurately learn more about his plans to lead Lindley Middle on the district website, social media feeds, and by email.”
In other business, the board approved the following appointments:
Jerry “Don” Baker: Appointed as director of athletics, chief of staff division from assistant principal of Kennesaw Mountain High School, effec♦ tive July 1. Baker will receive an annual salary bump from $90,220.73 to $108,411.20.
♦ Christopher Dowd: Appointed to executive director of employment, human resources division from director of employee relations in the same division, effective July 1. Dowd’s annual salary will increase from $102,432.15 to $103,197.97.
♦ Bryan Snyder: Appointed to director of the transportation department, operations division from supervisor of the same department, effective July 1. Snyder’s annual salary will increase from $67,407.90 to $91,999.70.
♦ Rebecca Volkerding: Appointed to director of recruitment, retention and workforce analytics, hu♦ man resources division from supervisor of evaluations in the same division, effective July 1. Volkerding’s annual salary will increase from $112,058.21 to $118.050.84.