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Musselman High principal resigns

September 15, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Musselman High School Principal John J. Cole, who was placed on administrative leave while state police investigate possible misuse of school funds, has resigned, a school official said Tuesday.

Berkeley County Schools spokeswoman Mary Jo Brown said Cole's resignation has nothing to do with the investigation.

The Berkeley County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday night to accept the resignation of Cole, who has been with the school system for 35 years and led Musselman High for more than 20 years.

Kitty Cauffman, former assistant principal at Hedgesville High School, will be acting principal at Musselman High until a new principal is hired, Brown said.

School officials announced last month that an administrator and a former secretary at Musselman High were being investigated by West Virginia State Police for possible misuse of school money.

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The secretary, who school officials confirmed was Sandra McDonald, resigned July 20 after admitting to Superintendent Manny Arvon that she misused school funds, according to allegations contained in a press release issued then by Berkeley County schools' public relations office.

Officials have declined to say how much money was missing from the school along U.S. 11 just south of Inwood, but said it is more than $1,000.

"It's still an ongoing investigation, so we cannot discuss it," Brown said.

Cole could not be reached for comment.

Daniel Nowak, who graduated from Musselman High two years ago, said "Quite a few people are sad" about the resignation.

Nowak is the brother of Erik Nowak, a 1998 graduate of Musselman High who was told near the end of the last school year that he could not deliver a valedictory address at graduation. The speech, which school officials later allowed him to give, chastised the school for placing more emphasis on athletics than academics.

Erik Nowak, who is attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va., said Tuesday he believes Musselman has the "wrong vision" because it does not prepare students to take challenges.

The issues involving the school developed as it was preparing to move into a new multimillion dollar facility. When school officials reported the case involving the missing money, Arvon said school officials wanted to deal with the situation swiftly and appropriately to maintain the integrity of the school system and not hamper the opening of the new school.

Board of Education member Bill Norris declined to comment on statements made by the Nowaks until the investigation is completed.

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