Reopen investigation of Hilton Head Island High principal on sex in the school

New information on an old allegation that a Hilton Head Island school principal had sex in the school building with an on-duty sheriff’s officer demands a new investigation by the Beaufort County School District.

The new information is an admission by the former Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office staff sergeant that he did indeed have sex in Hilton Head Island High School with principal Amanda O’Nan. O’Nan flatly denied it when the issue surfaced in 2016. And the Beaufort County School District said at the time it investigated the claims by O’Nan’s then-husband and found no evidence of any inappropriate activity.

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Now, former officer DeJuan Holmes says the affair indeed took place. He resigned in 2016 rather than face a sheriff’s office internal affairs investigation on the matter. But in June, he met with an investigator and admitted to the main allegations in a complaint filed by the principal’s husband at the time. The move could be a first step to Holmes regaining employment with the sheriff’s office, if he were to reapply.

O’Nan has remained on the job, but her marriage ended in divorce.

Our concern in light of this new information is her judgment. O’Nan said this week that it was a personal matter. It was that, but the affair as outlined by the deputy did not take place on private property, but in a public school building entrusted to her care.

We also are concerned with O’Nan’s truthfulness. The two key parties are now saying two totally different things about what happened between them. We need the truth.

And we are concerned with the message this entire episode sends to students O’Nan leads.

Interim Superintendent Herbert Berg, who was not here when the district’s investigation took place in 2016, now must deal with it. He should lead the district into a new era of transparency by openly telling the public what it examined, what it found and what it is going to do about it and why.

The district should weigh O’Nan’s judgment and truthfulness in this matter against her 12-year record as principal at the school. It is an overall outstanding record. The school excels academically and athletically. O’Nan runs an orderly, clean, safe campus with a strong sense that students are engaged, but that the adults are in charge.

Both the school district and O’Nan owe the public a response to the new information from the sheriff’s office.