George Lockhart, Lake Worth High School’s veteran principal, is being officially removed from his position as the school’s leader, two months after he was pulled from campus amid an investigation into the school’s discipline and grading practices.
Lockhart has been on alternate duty since then, but on Monday the school district made his removal official, announcing on Lake Worth High’s website that another administrator, Elvis Epps, has been named the school’s interim principal.
“Please join me in welcoming Dr. Elvis Epps as the interim principal of Lake Worth High School,” Regional Superintendent Frank Rodriguez wrote in the online message to parents.
“Dr. Epps has over twenty years of experience as an educator,” Rodriguez wrote. “He has served as a principal before coming to the Palm Beach County School District, where he most recently served as a human resources manager in the Office of Professional Standards.
It was not clear when Epps will assume his new role. Rodriguez did not respond to a message seeking comment, and a school district spokeswoman said she did not know the timeline for Epps’ transition.
Epps is a relative newcomer to the school district, having been hired in January 2016 as a human resources manager. Before that, he worked for 20 years as a teacher and administrator in Orange County’s public school system, then went to Tallahassee to serve as principal of Florida State University School, Florida State University’s K-12 laboratory school.
Epps led that charter school for about two years before leaving in October 2015 to “purs[ue] other professional opportunities,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported. When he left, Epps, who also works as a motivational speaker, advised his students via Twitter: “Know who you are and what you stand for. Live right.”
Lake Worth High has scheduled a meet-and-greet session with Epps on Feb. 22 at 5:30 p.m.
Lockhart, 52, had been principal of Lake Worth High since 2011. Before that, he led Roosevelt Middle School in West Palm Beach. He is the brother of Lake Shore Middle School Principal Anthony Lockhart, who last year was named the school district’s principal of the year.
Lockhart and an assistant principal, Terence Hart, were both removed from Lake Worth High late last year during an investigation into school practices, one sparked by complaints about how the school disciplined a student who was in a physical scuffle with Hart.
After Hart got into a physical altercation with the female student, his wife wrote a scathing email to the school board complaining that the student had “aggressively attacked” him and had been allowed to return to campus just a few days later.
The wife, Ayana Hart, blamed Lockhart, accusing him of putting school officials “at risk of a violent attack.”
The dust-up over the physical altercation triggered a school district probe, one said to have gone well beyond an inquiry into how a single violent incident was handled.
Two officials familiar with the case have told The Palm Beach Post that the school district’s initial inquiry unveiled a wide range of allegations about school practices, including discipline policies and grades, that school district officials are now vetting.
It’s not clear whether the investigation has concluded. But Hart has been transferred to an alternative school and Lockhart has been assigned to an administrative job in a school district office.