Ex-principal disputes emails with coach who unlocked door – Coastal Observer


Ex-principal disputes emails with coach who unlocked door

Adam George leads the WHS graduation ceremony in 2022.

The week before Adam George was placed on leave as principal of Waccamaw High during the school district’s investigation of a “senior prank” he received an exemplary evaluation.

The week after, he denied having specific knowledge that a prank was planned for the night of May 21 and cast doubt on a message attached to an anonymous complaint that purported to show he did.
“The message in question does not have my signature that is used in any email that I have ever sent through my personal or GCSD email account,” George wrote in a statement to the head of human resources for the Georgetown County School District that was obtained under an open records request.

He went on to say that “I feel that my character, professionalism, and reputation have been tainted by untruths and lack of evidence in my being placed on leave for ‘lack of judgment.’”

Two weeks later, the district announced that George would be reassigned after a coach at the school, who admitted unlocking a door to give two students access for the prank, provided a second copy of their email exchange two days before the incident.

“I obviously wanted to reach out to you and make sure this was okay with you and see about getting an alarm code,” the coach wrote, after students approached her about the prank.

In response, George said he had heard from the student and said she needed to find “someone that could let her in. I will turn the alarm off on Sunday during the day, so they will just need let in [sic]. I outlined what they could and could not do, so they are well aware. Also, I reminded them there are cameras everywhere!”

The exchange was not included in documents provided by the district following a Freedom of Information Act request in June. At the time, Lindsay Anne Thompson, the school district attorney, said she had reviewed six weeks of emails from George and other Waccamaw High staff for any mention of the prank. She found none.

“I haven’t been able to locate that email. That’s the biggest part of the mystery,” she said this week after providing new documents. “I should have it somewhere. I do not. I can’t tell you why that is.”

Staff arrived at the school on May 22 to find balloons, streamers and confetti in the cafeteria and front office. The Warrior mascot had been moved from the stadium to the front hall. Furniture had been moved and cooking oil splashed on the gym floor. Later, it was learned that “Class of 2023” had been spray painted on a rooftop HVAC unit and two vehicles had driven in a low-speed race around the track.

The incident was amplified on social media, in large part by some of the students who were seen on security video wandering through the school for two-and-a-half hours taking photos and videos of themselves that they shared in real time. The district’s investigation has occupied much of the summer break. After George was transferred, the school board received a request for a grievance hearing. After a closed door session, the board took no action and the source of the grievance was not revealed.

But in his statement to the district before he was removed, George was aggrieved.

“It is hard to believe that an anonymous StopIt app could cause my employer of 19 years to have so little faith in me to place me on leave over an incident that once again resulted in no personal harm or permanent damage, that I in no way authorized, or would ever authorize unsupervised at WHS,” he wrote, referring to the app that allows people to report concerns to the district.

The “punitive action,” he wrote, “came before any evidence of a lack of judgment in executing my duties as principal.”

He also said that talk about a senior prank at Waccamaw High began after a prank at Georgetown High “was highly publicized on social media.” George added that he did not have “specific conversations about that.”

Thompson said Georgetown High students put up balloons, streamers and childhood photos after hours, but were supervised by two staff members.

In his statement, George identified the girls varsity volleyball coach, Katie Wilson, as the person who first contacted him about the Waccaman prank. Although the district redacted all the names of students and many names of staff members from documents provided, Wilson’s name was not redacted.

“When Coach Wilson brought that to my attention, there was never anything concrete planned, and if she was going to be in the building (redacted) would be supervising (redacted) players,” George wrote.

Although he said he and others watched “countless hours” of security video to determine who drove on the track, George said “I still do not have any video evidence of how students entered the building.”

Security video shown to the Coastal Observer by the school district, showed two female students meet a woman at the back of the gym by the entrance to the girls locker room around 8:30 p.m. on May 21.

In an email exchange with the human resources director, Doug Jenkins, the woman, whose named was redacted,  wrote: “I reached out to Mr. George and asked him if I could let two (redacted) players into the (redacted) locker room on Sunday night for them to put balloons in the hallways and hang up a senior banner in the front of the school. He gave me permission to do so. I unlocked the locker room door, let them in, and locked it directly behind them so that no one else could enter the school.”

Did George say that the students needed to be supervised?, Jenkins asked.

“He asked that I lock the door behind them when they came out, and I did,” the woman replied.

The school security video shows the two girls ran to the front door of the school and propped it open before leaving through the locker room with the adult.

Records for the building’s alarm show that it was turned off at 6:08 am. on May 19 and not reset until 9:35 p.m. on May 22. Other administrators said in statements they had been at the school earlier in the evening of May 21 to set up for end-of-course testing. Assistant Superintendent Bethany Giles said in a statement that the alarm was not only disarmed that weekend, but previous nights and weekends the system had “not consistently been armed.”

In an email to George after he was placed on leave, Jenkins sent a series of questions about his knowledge of the incident and his conduct afterward, suggesting the damage was more extensive and that George had withheld information.

In his statement, George said he provided the district with information as it became available. The extent of the damage was exaggerated to include claims that an employee had been injured, he added.

The school resource officer, A.J. Kohut, was involved in the investigation and did not charge anyone with a crime, George said. 

The students who spray painted the HVAC unit, two African American females, and those who had driven on the track, two white males, were given three days of in-school suspension after consultation with Giles and Superintendent Keith Price, George said.

“I was told that the matter was closed,” he added.



Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to gcsd.k12.sc.us. Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to georgetowncountysc.org. Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to townofpawleysisland.com.   , .