Johnston County interim superintendent resigns abruptly

Johnston County News

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – The interim superintendent of Johnston County Schools resigned effective immediately on Friday, the district announced.

Jim Causby was expected to remain with Johnston County Public Schools through June 3. He was appointed to the interim role after the previous superintendent resigned amid a scandal.

Causby’s resignation comes as the system has a budget shortfall of nearly $9 million.

Causby discovered last fall that the district faces a shortfall of nearly $9 million this fiscal year. He requested help from county commissioners to close the gap.

School board members have made accusations of financial mismanagement leading to the shortfall.

Related: Johnston County school board chairman for ‘all the drama to cease and desist’

Causby has attributed the shortfall to the school system’s rapid growth and a lack of federal funding for some student programs.

Causby issued the following statement on Friday:

It is with great regret that I announce my resignation as Interim Superintendent of Johnston County Public Schools. I have not taken this decision lightly, and I continue to love the students, staff, and citizens of Johnston County. My long history in the school system has been one of the highlights of my career.

As I prepared for my arrival, I was informed that there were major budget needs, low morale, and the need to return to a sense of normalcy for the students and staff of the system. During my time in Johnston County Public Schools, I have aggressively worked to address these issues and was fully capable of bringing these issues to resolution.

The role of the Superintendent is to operate and make decisions regarding the needs of the school system. The role of the local Board of Education is to establish and adopt policies, budgets, and to oversee the governance of the system. When I agreed to return to Johnston County Public Schools during this time of transition, I was clear that I needed  to make decisions and oversee the daily operations of the school system, which was agreeable to the Board.

However, I also discussed with the Board of Education of Johnston County Public Schools that at any time I believed the Board or individual Board members would not allow me to effectively perform my job as Superintendent, that I would no longer agree to continue in this role. I believe that there are members of the Board who have fully supported me and I appreciate them. However, there are roadblocks and interference by others on the board which have impeded my ability to effectively fulfil my role as Superintendent. Thank you to Chairman Mr.Todd Sutton, Vice Chair Dr. Peggy Smith, Mr. Mike Wooten, Mrs. Terri Sessoms, and Mrs. Tracie Zukowski who provided me with their full support during this time as I returned to Johnston County Public Schools. My integrity, honesty, and skills as a leader are important and crucial to me, and it is extremely concerning when those are questioned without merit. 

I would like to thank the staff and administrators of Johnston County Public Schools who I know work tirelessly each day for our students. The students should be our focus and I am hopeful that the Board of Education can begin to focus on the students, current needs and to move beyond the past to find a replacement who can provide stability to the school system. 

Jim Causby

Johnston County Board of Education Chairman Todd Sutton issued this statement on Friday:

It is with deep sadness that I accept the resignation of Dr. Jim Causby, Interim Superintendent. While this is a difficult time for Johnston County Public Schools, we ask for your support of the school system and our Board of Education as we take the necessary steps to move the school system forward. At the present time, I have called upon Mr. Brian Vetrano to serve the district as the acting Superintendent of Johnston County Public Schools effective today, January 10, 2020. I remain positive and hopeful for the future of Johnston County Public Schools. I would like to thank Dr. Jim Causby for his tireless efforts to assist Johnston County Public Schools.

Todd Sutton

David Ross Renfrow retired as superintendent in late August.

Renfrow’s retirement comes as the principal of Clayton High School Dr. Bennett Jones was reassigned, along with the sudden resignation of the school’s head football coach, Hunter Jenks.

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