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Update on controversial Waynesboro High School hires: No news is the news

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The strategy of Waynesboro Public Schools in dealing with the community fallout over two controversial hires for positions at Waynesboro High School appears to be to just wait it out.

Joshua Herndon, a former principal in the city school system, who resigned his job at an Ohio high school in 2022 amid an investigation into sexual misconduct, was announced last week as a new assistant principal at Waynesboro High School.

Shonn Bell, a Waynesboro native and former NAIA All-American who had a brief NFL career, was hired last month to be the school’s head football coach, before it came to light that he had faced a string of criminal charges dating back to his college days, and pleaded guilty to two of the charges while he was in his mid-30s.

The Waynesboro School Board held a closed meeting on May 9 to discuss what the agenda described as a “personnel” matter, ostensibly the Bell hire, but closed the meeting without taking any action on whatever they had discussed behind closed doors.

The Herndon hire, then, was announced at the next school board meeting, the regularly scheduled meeting of the board for the month of May, on May 14.

The school system sent a news release to the local news media during the meeting touting the Herndon hire.

The next morning, it emerged, through reporting from AFP, that Herndon and a data coach in the Southeast school system, Amber Vankirk, had been placed on administrative leave on Nov. 30, 2022, at first pending an “unspecified investigation,” before it was later revealed that the investigation involved “allegations of sexual misconduct.”

The two, who had been warned that discipline, “up to and including termination,” could occur as a result of the alleged misconduct. resigned their jobs on Dec. 12, 2022.

Efforts from AFP to get school system and school board officials to comment on the questions being raised about the Herndon and Bell hires have been rebuffed.

The next scheduled school board meeting is the regularly scheduled meeting for the month of June, which has been set for Tuesday, June 11.

And then after that, the school board doesn’t meet again until Tuesday, July 9, after the start of the 2024-2025 fiscal year, which begins on July 1, at which point the employment contracts of Herndon and Bell would go into effect.

It’s probably fair to assume at this point that the Herndon and Bell hires are done deals, but we’re going to test that out with public-records requests to the school system, just to make sure.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].