In possibly the briefest school board meeting on record, members of the Norfolk Public Schools board of education approved the resignation of high school principal James Lake on Thursday night.
The special board meeting included only one action item — to discuss, consider and take all necessary action with regard to the resignation of Lake — and lasted 2 minutes.
Superintendent Jami Jo Thompson read a joint statement from her and Lake before school board members voted unanimously to approve a motion accepting the resignation.
"Mr. Lake submitted his resignation to the school board, citing personal and professional reasons related to differences in approach and philosophy regarding the leadership of the high school. Mr. Lake leaves our school district on an amicable basis, and he intends to continue pursuing opportunities in educational leadership," Thompson read from the prepared statement.
Although Lake was not at the meeting, four members of the media and 16 members of the public were in attendance. Most of the public appeared to be high-school age students, along with a few people who appeared to be parents.
Members of the public were not given an opportunity by the school board to speak during the meeting or before the vote to accept Lake's resignation. After the meeting came to a close, one woman, who attended with several teenagers, shouted at the school board on her way out the door.
"How quickly you all let one of your own go," she said.
Before Thursday's meeting, about 20 students staged a "small, quiet" protest at the high school that morning, according to Thompson. She said the students went to the library and refused to go to class.
"I think that they just wanted to express their opinions about Mr. Lake, that they liked him as a principal," Thompson said.
Once the assistant principals at the high school, Jake and Mary Luhr and Dennis Dolliver, explained that there could be consequences if the students disrupted the learning environment, the majority of them went back to class, Thompson said.
"There was a small group of about 10 (students) that they then took to the office and talked to them, let them express their feelings and then, eventually, told them they would have to go to class or be counted truant. So there were a few whose parents chose to let them go," Thompson said.
Other than that, Thompson said she hasn't "really gotten a lot of feedback from the community."
"Just that they would like to know why, and, of course, I'm not really at liberty to say that," she said.
Lake's letter of resignation was received Wednesday, Thompson said, and she referred to the joint statement as his reason for leaving the district. Regarding what specifically constituted the "differences in approach and philosophy regarding the leadership of the high school," Thompson said Lake did not tell her.
"And if I'm aware, I'm not able to share that," she said.
Lake was not asked to resign, Thompson said, but she was aware that he was considering doing so, saying she had had some discussions with him to that effect.
Lake's resignation is the second of a Norfolk High School principal in just over two years. Longtime principal Steve Morton resigned in 2011 to accept an administrative position at Northeast Community College.
Bel Air principal Tim Kwapnioski filled in as the interim high school principal for a year before Lake was hired in the summer of 2012 and began his contract with the district in August of that year.