Education

Hilton Head Island High School principal speaks out, denies allegations

Amanda O’Nan
Amanda O’Nan Staff file

Hilton Head Island High School Principal Amanda O’Nan says her relationship with a former Beaufort County Sheriff’s deputy was strictly professional, and that she has never inappropriately used the high school after hours.

“Obviously it’s false,” O’Nan said Wednesday morning, when asked for her response to Chris O’Nan’s allegation that she’d had an affair with DeJuan Holmes, previously a staff sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office.

“I just need people to know my ... children are my priority,” she said. “My passion is this school. And this needs to be a personal matter resolved in court.”

Amanda O’Nan was the subject of a Beaufort County School District investigation, according to district spokesperson Jim Foster. She said Tuesday that a complaint filed by her husband with the Sheriff’s Office triggered the investigation.

O’Nan said she was questioned as part of the investigation. Foster, who said the district’s human resources division handled the matter, said the investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.

When asked Monday about the nature of the inquiry, the evidence the district reviewed and the timeline of the investigation, Foster declined to comment.

The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette do not normally write about family court cases, but this case is unusual in that allegations are being made against two public employees in unique positions of community trust. The allegations include claims that both abused their positions of trust, and used public equipment and a public school building while doing so.

Chris O’Nan’s complaint, filed April 27, included allegations that his wife and the deputy were having an affair, and that the two met on multiple occasions inside Hilton Head High School. He also alleged his wife and the deputy used Holmes’ police vehicle to facilitate the relationship.

When confronted with the allegations, Holmes resigned.

“It’s been a professional relationship,” Amanda O’Nan said Wednesday, characterizing her relationship with Holmes. When asked if she knew Holmes personally, outside of a professional capacity, O’Nan said that as a principal, “you know lots of people through lots of avenues.” She said she doesn’t “have a whole lot of time to do a whole lot of anything else but work and be a mom.”

When initially asked if she’d ever met Holmes at or inside Hilton Head High School, O’Nan said she didn’t want to talk about her personal situation involving her divorce and her husband.

Later, when asked the same question, she said she’d never met Holmes there “after hours.”

She said she’s routinely in the building after hours doing work. “Tonight I’m going to be here,” she said, adding that if people drove by the school, they’d see her truck in the parking lot.

The newspapers attempted to ask O’Nan about the policies and procedures she has in place at the high school to regulate and monitor access to the building, but she declined to discuss the matter. Per the policies listed on the district’s website, principals are responsible for their buildings and for issuing keys.

Wade Livingston: 843-706-8153, @WadeGLivingston

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