Volusia schools work to rebuild community's trust after Mainland HS incidents

Interim superintendent shares regrets surrounding Mainland High situation

By Loren Korn - Reporter

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - From the new curriculum in its elementary schools to fewer substitute teachers in classrooms, the Volusia County School District is moving forward with a lot of changes this year. More importantly, it's trying to rebuild the community's trust after two investigations led to Mainland High School Principal Dr. Cheryl Salerno retiring in lieu of being fired earlier this month.

Interim Superintendent Tim Egnor said he regrets the Mainland High School situation that caused many parents and students to lose trust but said the school district is working hard to correct those mistakes and regain the school's iconic status.

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"In the Mainland situation, there was obvious, ample evidence that mistakes were made," Egnor said.

Egnor said the investigation into fake AP exams given to hundreds of students last year uncovered a speech class that Salerno created for nine seniors, mostly athletes who received A grades. But documents showed "no such class was taught, no evidence in the grade book exists."

"We think the students should be held harmless unless or until we get some other reason to take a different action," he said.

Egnor also acknowledged that two teachers acted as counselors but weren't certified to do so and that Salerno failed to report to the district about teachers teaching other subjects.

The interim superintendent said the district introduced a new data system for the new school year that has more monitoring and reporting mechanisms, which should stop similar mistakes from happening in the future.

"I made sure that we had a stated expectation, not just to assume everything that comes from a school is correct and accurate, as it has been in the past," Egnor said. "And there is an assumption of trust, but we have to do a better job of monitoring down to, really, a granular level and then reporting back anomalies to the school and saying, 'Hey, this doesn't look right,' or, 'This doesn't make sense.'"

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Egnor said the school district is not investigating anyone else at Mainland High School.

News 6 asked if the school could lose its accreditation. Egnor said it's not likely because the school district discovered what was going on, took swift action and put plans in place to prevent future issues.

Former Mainland High School Principal Tim Huth is serving as the school's interim principal. An extensive search for a new principal will start in the spring.

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