Education

Hilton Head principal Amanda O’Nan resigns in Facebook post months after SC reprimand

Listen: Former deputy admits to having sex with Hilton Head principal while on duty

In a June 2018 interview obtained by The Island Packet through an open records request, former Beaufort County deputy DeJuan Holmes admitted to having sex inside Hilton Head High School with principal Amanda O'Nan while he was on duty back in 2016.
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In a June 2018 interview obtained by The Island Packet through an open records request, former Beaufort County deputy DeJuan Holmes admitted to having sex inside Hilton Head High School with principal Amanda O'Nan while he was on duty back in 2016.

After four months of being on paid administrative leave, longtime Hilton Head Island principal Amanda O’Nan announced her resignation Tuesday afternoon in a Facebook message that included an apology to her followers for “any hurt or disappointment” she had caused them, as well as a prayer that Beaufort County School District’s interim superintendent, human resources director and an unnamed school board member “continue to enjoy living in their glass house as they cast stones.”

District spokesperson Jim Foster confirmed O’Nan’s resignation Tuesday evening but had no further comment — not about the contents of O’Nan’s post nor whether the district and O’Nan had reached a settlement agreement prior to her resignation.

It was also unclear whether O’Nan’s resignation is effective immediately.

On Tuesday night, her attorney, Ed Kubec, released a statement calling O’Nan “one of the most courageous persons I’ve ever met” and said that after fighting for her reputation for three years, she knew “when to stop the battle.”

“Her resignation,” he wrote in a text, “is a loss for the entire community.”

The district placed O’Nan, a popular administrator, on paid leave Jan. 8 after accusations resurfaced that she conducted an after-hours extramarital affair on school grounds with an on-duty Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office deputy in 2016.

Up until March 12 — when she was publicly reprimanded by the South Carolina Department of Education’s board after a state investigation — O’Nan had repeatedly denied the accusations.

In the state’s written order, however, she admitted to putting “herself in a sensitive position by meeting an individual for reasons unrelated to school business on school grounds after hours.”

She continues to dispute any notion that she had sexual relations on campus, her attorney said Tuesday night.

A week after the state’s decision, a report in The Island Packet revealed that O’Nan and now-former deputy DeJuan Holmes had exchanged hundreds of personal messages over their work accounts between Sept. 21, 2015, and April 24, 2016.

The emails appeared to show a close and flirtatious relationship between two married individuals who made arrangements to see each other and who, at times, seemed to have used their work accounts as a way to communicate out of sight from their spouses.

None of the work emails released by the district showed that O’Nan made plans to meet with Holmes inside the high school after-hours.

Though the school district concluded its own investigation into O’Nan months ago, it had made no announcement about its findings or O’Nan’s future with the district, frustrating parents, students and community members who rallied for her return.

In 2016, the district said it had investigated the claims against O’Nan and found no evidence against her. The state board of education came to the same conclusion in its own investigation that year.

Nearly three years later, however, the district changed its story, saying an investigation into O’Nan had never been conducted because then-superintendent Jeff Moss told the district’s human resources department to stay away from it and said he would handle it, which he strongly denies.

In its 2019 written ruling, the state board of education pointed an accusing finger at the school district, noting that when it had previously reviewed the allegations against O’Nan in 2016, it had not been given the evidence that was presented this time.

On Tuesday night, Kubec reiterated that the district and state found no evidence of wrongdoing in 2016, and he noted that for 2 1/2 years after both investigations were concluded, O’Nan “led HHIHS to even greater heights.”

“But,” he wrote, “the investigative closures and accomplishments were tactically ignored when the accusations against her resurfaced.”

O’Nan posted her resignation message on Facebook at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, and, in it, referenced taking “the high road.”

She also thanked those she’s worked with at the school over the years.

“I am grateful for having been given the opportunity to work alongside the best, most extraordinary teachers, administrative team an staff over the last 11 years. So much has been accomplished on so many levels, and still there is more potential,” she wrote.

About an hour after she published her post she removed the references to interim superintendent Herb Berg, human resources director Alice Walton and the unnamed school member and replaced it with “And I pray ————. (Fill in the blank) continue to enjoy living in their glass house as they cast stones.”

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