West Baton Rouge Schools Superintendent David Corona announced Thursday that Port Allen High School will be under new leadership at the beginning of next school year.
According to Corona, PAHS’s current principal, Warren LeJeune, has accepted the position of principal of the virtual school/district security liaison for the parish, while current Devall Middle School principal James Jackson accepted the position of PAHS principal.
The changes will take place on June 1, 2013.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to it,” said LeJeune Monday afternoon in his office at the high school. “I’ve invested 13 years of my heart and my passion and my time and my energy in making Port Allen High School the best school that it could possibly be. We have our highest school performance score, and just missed being a B school by a few points, and I think that’s a big testimony to the faculty and staff here.”
James Jackson, current Devall Middle School principal, said that was “humbled, honored and excited” to be asked to become the next principal at Port Allen High School, and said that he would continue to look to the leadership of LeJeune to help guide him through the transitional period.
“He knows that I’m going to be leaning on him greatly during this transition,” he said, adding that he asked for permission to begin visiting the high school to get more accommodated with the school’s faculty and staff. “I’ll start visiting there once a week and start sitting down with the teachers and introducing myself and seeing if there are any questions or concerns that they want to talk to me about.
I’m excited about the challenge. And I look forward to being a part of that family.”
LeJeune said that he believes Jackson will mesh well with students, faculty, staff, and parents of Port Allen and will excel as the next principal of the school.
“The responsibility, the time and the commitment that is asked of a principal – you have to be physically and mentally prepared and ready for it, and I think Mr. Jackson easily has all those qualities and what he needs to possess in order to do a great job at PAHS,” said LeJeune, adding that he will surely be willing to help in any way. “I won’t be far away. I’ve got 13 years of knowledge about PAHS to help him and the staff make that transition from Mr. LeJeune to a new administration on the campus.”
Corona echoed LeJeune’s thoughts about Jackson, and said that he believes the moves will be good for each entity involved.
“I think change in this scenario, will bring a fresh perspective to the virtual school, to the district security, and to Port Allen High School,” Corona said.
LeJeune said that he will miss Port Allen High, but is excited about the new challenges that will come with his new principal position.
“It’s something I look forward to as far as helping our kids with AP courses and making sure our kids in the alternative school settings still get the education that they need in those settings,” he said. “And looking out for the safety of all of our kids in the parish and the faculty and staff.”
Corona said once the position of principal of the virtual school/district security liaison was created, he immediately thought LeJeune would be perfect for the job. He said that he also believed Jackson would be a perfect replacement as PAHS principal.
“I talked with each one confidentially, individually, to tell them about my thoughts and both were excited about the opportunities that it offered them,” he said. “This should be viewed by everyone as a win-win. It’s a win for the parish as we improve our virtual schooling and our security. And it’s a win for Port Allen High School as we move James Jackson into filling the role that Warren leaves.”
Corona said the school board will begin advertising soon for a new principal for Devall Middle, a school that has had three different principals in four years.
“There’s no question that one of the prime things we will be looking for in a principal at Devall will be someone who will be there for a while,” he said. “One of the driving forces will be someone who will bring stability to that situation. No question.”
In LeJeune’s newly created role, a dual role for West Baton Rouge Parish Schools as principal of the virtual school and district security liaison, he will be responsible for the parish’s virtual school, including the alternative school, as well as managing functions related to all aspects of school security.
“Warren is very good with technology. And he is very focused on the task at hand as a result of his military training,” Corona said, adding that LeJeune is a retired Major in the U.S. Air Force. “He knows how to get things done, and he also understands the importance of security, which is the other part of this job.”
LeJeune will be monitoring the parish’s alternative coursework to assure the school system maintains a strong focus in the area of virtual and alternative schooling – an area WBR has lacked focus for in the past, according to Corona.
“He will also be working with our high school communities to find out the needs or desires of different high school kids, so that we can provide them additional online coursework as a possibility, as we compete with the state regarding course choice,” Corona said. “We will be expanding our advanced placement course offerings. These are all things that the 21st century now demands that we do, and we want to do it right.”
Corona said that the school system decided to create the position of principal of the virtual school to focus on virtual-based instruction following the state’s decision to allow private and parochial schools to receive tax dollars. He added that the state has also embarked on a plan called Course Choice, which allows students to take courses online through private providers.
“Now that we are competing with private providers, it behooves us to put more of an emphasis on virtual schooling,” Corona said. “It’s obvious that the whole world is going more and more toward online types of activities.”
LeJeune’s duties as district security liaison will fulfill daily security operations once the school system increases security throughout all schools in the parish – a discussion the board has continuously had since the beginning of the year.
“The board is getting ready to sink a pretty good bit of money into beefing up our security in all of our schools,” Corona said. “All of those processes need to be monitored on a daily basis to ensure that everything is operational daily.”
Corona said that LeJeune will that all cameras and monitors work properly; panic buttons, which will be installed, will call 9-1-1 and are operational; and that all schools are following the board’s guidelines in terms of metal detector checks and practiced lockdowns and evacuations.
LeJeune said that in his new capacity, he will continue to have the same attitude about education and how to treat others, and he will continue to keep a close eye on the school he gave 13 years of his life to.
“When kids know that you care about them and you’re genuine, folks tend to want to do better for themselves and for the ones that really care about them,” he said. “I would hope that when I leave, that (people) will remember that if you treat those like they want to be treated and you’re genuine and you really care about them, it’s going to show in your actions and what you say.
“Bigger and better things will happen with Port Allen High School, and I will be right next door to help that continue on.”