Northside Intermediate School Associate Principal Jon Lyon will serve as the interim principal at Harmony Elementary School for the remainder of the school year.
Lyon began his duties at Harmony on Monday, replacing principal Jeanne Smith, who is on a leave of absence until the start of her retirement June 25.
Smith was placed on leave Feb. 18 by School District of Milton Superintendent Tim Schigur after witnesses expressed concerns about the way Smith allegedly restrained a student with autism during an outburst at the school. An investigation by the Janesville Police Department has cleared Smith of any criminal wrongdoing.
Lyon – who has also served as the principal of Consolidated Elementary School this year – has been with the School District of Milton since the start of the 2012-13 school year. Prior to Milton, Lyon taught social studies and coached sports and activities for the Parkview School District in Orfordville.
Schigur made the announcement in a letter distributed to Harmony Elementary School parents on Friday. Schigur said in an interview on Tuesday he felt Lyon would be a good fit for Harmony and had been well-received by students and staff in his first couple of days.
Lyon will continue his role as principal at Consolidated Elementary School in addition to leading Harmony Elementary. Meanwhile, an interim associate principal will be selected to take on Lyon’s duties at Northside.
“He’s spent this year with Consolidated, so he understands that level and I think he'll be a natural fit,” Schigur said. “I'm very thankful to (Northside principal) Sarah Stuckey and Northside to let me move him out (to Harmony). I know this is a disruption to them as well. Having Sarah's support and Northside's support for him to go there was very important.”
Prior to the reported February incident at Harmony Elementary School, the Milton Board of Education on Jan. 27 had accepted Smith’s plans to retire. The board then reached an agreement with Smith on March 10 to continue her leave of absence until the date of her retirement using Smith’s “accrued paid leave.”
In his letter to parents, Schigur apologized for the “disruption to the Harmony School environment over the past few weeks,” adding, “I want families to know that I am (and have been) committed to the safety and well-being of all of the students and staff here.”
He declined to address any of the specific details about the “alleged happenings at Harmony” that have been reported by the media.
“I am not going to comment on any of those stories,” Schigur wrote. “I am focusing on moving forward to assist with making the best learning environment possible.”
Schigur said the district will post a job listing in a few weeks seeking a new Harmony Elementary School principal for the 2014-15 school year.