UPDATED: Pugh resigns as superintendent of Troup County School System

Published 5:33 pm Monday, August 13, 2018

The Troup County School System accepted Superintendent Cole Pugh’s resignation Monday night. Pugh had served as the superintendent of the Troup County School System since 2011, when he moved from Fort Worth, Texas. 

Board members Alfred McNair, Joe Franklin, Cathy Hunt, Allen Simpson, Kirk Hancock and Brandon Brooks voted unanimously to accept Pugh’s resignation in a special called meeting before Monday’s board work session. Board member Ted Alford was not at either of Monday’s meetings.

The special called meeting started at 5 p.m. and the board immediately went into executive session, a period that lasted 16 minutes. The public portion of the meeting lasted less than a minute.

“We have two items to come out of our discussion. The first item is to entertain a motion to hereby accept Dr. Pugh’s resignation, effective today, and to authorize the board to move into a resignation agreement,” Hancock, the board chairman said. 

The second item was to authorize Dr. Roy Nichols as the interim superintendent for the school system. Nichols was approved unanimously, and the special meeting ended.

The regularly-scheduled board meeting started five minutes later and began with Hancock introducing Nichols, who served as superintendent of Troup County School System from 1999 to 2004.

“I think it’s important that, as the board goes about trying to find a new, permanent superintendent, the person sitting in the superintendent’s chair is not a candidate, which is why I agreed to do this,” Nichols said. “I think it’s important that I just be objective and help them find the very best person for the system. This is a school system that I’m very proud of, a school system that serves my community, Troup County, and when they called me and asked me to do this, I could not say no. I look forward to working with all of you and hitting the ground running [Tuesday] morning.”

Hancock said the board was thankful that Nichols was willing to step in.

“We are thankful you would come out of retirement to step in, and we look forward to finding your replacement,” Hancock said following the meeting.

Pugh was not at the meeting and board members did not say why he resigned. He could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.

“I can’t speak to why he resigned,” Hancock said. “It’s personnel. We accepted his resignation and worked through that on behalf of the system.”

Brooks, who said he was informed of Pugh’s resignation earlier Monday, also could not speak to the nature or circumstance of the resignation, due to confidentiality restrictions. 

“I really can’t speak to that, personnel issues are all strictly confidential and for executive session purposes,” Brooks said. “What I can speak to is the fact that this is unfortunate. But, we are really excited about Dr. Nichols and moving things forward in a positive way for the students.” 

Pugh’s resignation comes just three days into the new school year and after a summer of changes at leadership positions for the school system.

“For the most part, from the superintendent and the team, most of their hard work is done leading up to school,” Hancock said. “By the time school starts, you’re kind of unleashed and let the teachers and principals and staff do their job. They start preparing for next year. The day-to-day interaction, strategic part for the superintendent almost lulls as school gets started. Then, they start preparing for next year.”

Pugh’s resignation comes just weeks after the retirements of longtime cabinet members Sequita Freeman, who served as the human resources director, and Karen Cagle, former assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and professional learning.

“No doubt, that’s a lot of change, and that’s why we were so excited to get Dr. Nichols, who has been a longstanding member of the community and was the superintendent here,” Hancock said. 

“He can provide that transition. Even the new changes were internal, they were within the system. So, there’s some change in titles for a lot of them, and some (new) roles, but their knowledge of the system and the community is deep.”

Hancock and Simpson said that the superintendent job will be posted soon, but there is no timeline for filling the position.

“Our goal is to find the best available person as soon as we can, but we are going to be thoughtful and figure out exactly what we are looking for,” Hancock said.  

Both Hancock and Simpson were appreciative of Pugh’s seven years with the school system.

“He was here during some of the most difficult times possible, through all of the budget cuts, the Great Recession, consolidating schools, so he has led us through some very difficult times and has built some things that are very foundational that we look forward to building on in the future,” Hancock said. 

Pugh signed a three-year contract in 2011 and had his contract renewed on four different occasions, according to archived board meeting minutes. 

The last renewal The LaGrange Daily News found in the agenda archives came in March 2017 and said that Pugh’s contract was extended until January 2020.

According to the contract agreed on in 2011, his base salary was $142,500 annually.