Hearing for fired McCracken Middle School principal set for Friday

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comOctober 30, 2013 

Phillip Shaw in 2012.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Nearly a year after he was placed on paid administrative leave, a former H.E. McCracken Middle School principal will present his case this week on why he should not have been fired.

Phillip Shaw's appeal hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Friday at the district's office at 2900 Mink Point Blvd. in Beaufort. School board chairman Bill Evans said the hearing is expected to last more than one day. Friday's proceedings will end about 5 p.m. and would reconvene at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

The hearing is open to the public, at Shaw's request.

"I think there's a lot of questions that the public has that for various reasons haven't been answered," Evans said. "There are questions about the grounds for dismissal and why the district paid him all that time -- I presume that those are all going to get answered in the hearing."

Attempts Wednesday to reach Shaw and his attorney, Fatima Zeidan of the Law Office of Clifford Bush III in Beaufort, were unsuccessful. Attempts to reach school district attorneys Vernie Williams and Ken Childs of Columbia-based law firm Childs & Halligan were also unsuccessful.

Evans said no settlement between Shaw and the district is being negotiated. The district confirmed with Zeidan a week ago that Shaw still wanted a public hearing, Evans said.

Attorneys for both parties began taking depositions in early October, according to Williams. They completed that work last week, said district human resources chief Alice Walton.

The attorneys exchanged witness lists Aug. 30, according to Evans. Each list has about 10 witnesses, Williams has said, but he would not release their names.

Shaw left McCracken Middle School on Nov. 8, 2012, but continued to earn his $93,774 annual salary while on leave. The school board voted July 23 to fire Shaw. Shaw requested the public hearing Aug. 13.

The hearing will be much like a trial, including testimony from witnesses on both sides and closing arguments. The school board will then decide whether to uphold the firing.

If the board decides to overturn the firing, Evans has said, Shaw, the board and the district would then have to make a joint decision about his "future relationship with the district."

Reasons for Shaw's leave and termination have never been made public.

Shaw said in December -- his only interview with The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette since his leave -- that he thinks he was placed on leave as a cover-up for complaints he made against a counselor at the school.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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