MOULTON — Even though the Lawrence County Chapter of NAACP didn’t get one of its recommendations selected as the Hazlewood Elementary School principal, the chapter’s leaders say they are not upset.
At a called meeting Friday afternoon, the Lawrence County Board of Education voted 5-0 to hire Patrick Mullins, of Madison, as principal at the elementary school in Town Creek. Mullins, 39, is a native of Tuscaloosa and began this school year as assistant principal of Bob Jones High School in Madison.
“The reason we aren’t disappointed, we wanted a black male in that position at that school and we got that,” said Bobby Diggs, first vice president of the chapter. “I have looked at his resume, and I have called people who personally know him and they had good things to say. Many of the Hazlewood students need a strong male role model in their lives. I want to thank the board and superintendent for working with us to get the caliber of leader needed at the school to move it forward.”
Former chapter president Lee Langham said Mullins has a track record as being fair and a disciplinarian.
“Hopefully, he will straighten out the problems we’ve had at that school,” Langham said. “He’s somebody the younger boys can look up to. Now they have a principal who looks more like them. That might encourage those boys to strive for higher goals in life.”
Hazlewood Elementary’s student body is 65% minority. The past two principals, Stacie Givens and Gary Smith, are white. The local NAACP chapter members did not wish to name their recommendations who were passed over.
“I want to first establish good relationships with the students, teachers, parents and community,” Mullins said. “I plan to promote the good things that are happening at the school and in the community. I’m eager to get started.”
Superintendent Jon Bret Smith said the board and selection committee carefully studied the list of principal applicants.
“We reviewed the recommendations from the NAACP and other individuals who applied,” Smith said. “We researched every candidate and found what we feel is the best fit for Hazlewood Elementary. He has a history of working in a high-poverty school as well as a magnet school and is well-versed in data and school change."
Mullins said he has worked seven years as an assistant principal and nine years in the classroom. He was named assistant principal at Bob Jones in 2017.
He has degrees from Alabama A&M and Columbus State in Georgia, where he earned his educational specialist degree.
He begins at Hazlewood on Sept. 3. In the meantime, Gina Baggett, federal programs director for Lawrence County schools, is serving as interim principal.
School boards are legally required to give notice of meeting times. An email to reporters on Thursday listed an incorrect time for the board's called Friday meeting although other postings had the correct time.
In other business Friday, the board:
• Accepted the resignation of Tatia Young, math teacher, Lawrence County High, effective Aug. 23.
• Accepted the retirement of Meschelle DenBeste, teacher, Moulton Elementary, effective Sept. 1.
• Hired Rachel Threet, teacher, Hazlewood Elementary.
• Transferred Sonya Kilpatrick, assistant principal at Hatton High, to assistant principal at Lawrence County High; and Taffy Pierce, assistant principal at Hatton Elementary to assistant principal at Hatton High.
• Set the next board meeting for Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.