Audubon High School Returns to 3 Building Administrators

Finding Order After Disorder


The administrative structure of a school is not something students tend to consider. However, here at Audubon, in light of this year’s drastic restructuring and personnel changes, students have become curious and started asking questions. Two years ago Audubon High school had an administrative shift leaving the students and staff feeling a lack of discipline, control, and structure. Audubon always had a building principal and two vice principals. However, in November of 2018, Superintendent Dr. Andy Davis felt money could be saved by eliminating the building principal position and creating two co-principal positions in place of the vice principal positions. In 2020 The Board of Education made the structure change official meaning since the co-principal titles were technically new positions, the acting vice principals at the time, Mr. Frank Corley and Mr. Eric Miller, were fired under the terms of reduction in force, or RIF. The school then moved into a two-principal structure. The previous building principal, Mr. Robert Buchs, and former head of guidance Mrs. Kelly Reising, transitioned to the co-principal titles. After Buchs retired in early 2021, Mr. Michael Nicholson took the co-principal position.    

This new structure faced and created many complications for the students and staff in terms of discipline, safety, and workload management. Some students even felt threatened by their peers and became frustrated with the lack of punishment for their wrongdoings. The Board reconvened after the 2021-2022 school year ended and decided to return to the three-principal structure for the following year. Mr. Miller and Mr. Corley were offered back their administrative positions as vice principals and Mr. Lebb was brought in to head the team as building principal. 

Returning to school after full remote learning because of Covid-19 was a difficult and unimaginable transition for the students and the staff. Besides learning to balance online and in-person students, half-day instruction, and Covid protocols, there was also the new administrative structure to understand. The entirely different school day design and rules led some students to feel there was no discipline. Or at least that no disciplinary actions could be enforced; and to an extent, they were right. Students did not have to pay attention to their teachers but still passed. It was easy to cheat on tests and quizzes, and there was nothing the teachers could do to prove the integrity of their students’ work. When we returned to start partial in-person instruction there were fewer students in the building and less need for total enforcement of the rules. Besides, keeping the students and staff safe was priority number one. However, when everyone returned to school this lack of order became widespread. It did not take long for bathroom vandalism, lunchroom chaos, skipped classes, and student harassment. 

Mr. Corley stated that many of the staff members reached out for advice regarding the problems last year. He felt bad that negative things were happening in his old district but knew he could not help since he was not there anymore. Mr. Corley is back now and in charge of student discipline for the 10-12th grades. He has a background implementing structured discipline from his time working at an alternative school he says he knew the issue was with student discipline. Mr. Miller had nothing to say about the past administration. Overall, the administration and Board of Education realized the co-principal administrative structure had too many weak points and started planning to change it back to the three principle structure to better fit the school’s and students’ needs. 

Superintendent, Dr. Davis:  “I am very fortunate to be here and whether it be finances or Covid, we weather the stone and ride that positive wave. We are in a good place for positive changes.”

The new admins are determined to make a difference; whether it be changing the dress code, being present in the hallways, or changing the student mindset of administration. “Showing respect to the kids and the workers sets an example” says Mr. Corley. He says that if the administration shows respect to the kids, then hopefully they can gain the kids respect in return over time. Mr. Lebb, Building Principal, says he wants to be more visible to the students, and he believes that defining the roles and responsibilities of the new administrative team will be the solution the school is looking for. The administrators now have more time to interact with the students because they are not overwhelmed with an impossible amount of responsibilities and stretched too thin. 

Mr. Miller explained the goal is to create a better school environment with the help of the students. He wants every student to speak their mind on things and make changes when they would improve the school for years to come.