Southeast principal and data coach resign amid unspecified investigation

Photo by Jon Ridinger

The principal of Southeast High School and an academic analyst for the school district have both resigned, said Superintendent Robert Dunn, who declined to explain the reason, citing an ongoing legal investigation.

Principal Josh Herndon and Data Coach Amber Vankirk were placed on paid administrative leave after unspecified allegations came to light about them Nov. 30, Dunn said. They submitted resignation letters effective Dec. 12.

Dunn expects to recommend that the Southeast Board of Education accept the resignations during their Dec. 19 regular meeting.

“I’m sure people will speculate, but I wouldn’t comment on that speculation,” Dunn said.

Herndon was in his third year as Southeast’s high school principal. Prior to that, he was a principal and assistant principal at a school district in rural Virginia for five years, according to his LinkedIn page. He’s also pursuing a doctoral degree from Youngstown State.

Vankirk was in her first year as Southeast Local Schools’ data coach. The Southeast Board of Education unanimously approved Vankirk for a $66,910-per-year contract for two years on June 27.

As data coach, she developed assessments and analyzed student data to identify achievement gaps created by the pandemic, Dunn said. She was also tasked with developing intervention methods to help students close those gaps.

“We’ll get through this challenging time. We’ll get some people in place after we accept their resignations to fill their spots, and we’ll continue to move forward with the great things we have going on at Southeast schools,” Dunn said.

Herndon and Vankirk did not respond to requests for comment. Their personnel files, obtained by The Portager, did not suggest any issues with past performance.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.