Second Principal Resigns Amid MNPS Sexual Harassment Scandal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Nashville elementary school principal has resigned amid on-going questions about sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct in Metro Schools.

Dr. Lance High, principal of Smith Springs Elementary School in Antioch, resigned just four days after the district received an unspecified complaint against him, spokesperson Dawn Rutledge confirmed.

But, like in other cases, NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered, it wasn't High's first.

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In an email to the school's staff, High -- a 14-year veteran of the Metro school system -- said he had been dealing with "deeply intense, personal issues that stemmed from being abused by a family friend" when he was four years old.

He said he began receiving counseling three years ago.

"I've come a long way in three years but I've been convicted in recent weeks that I need to complete the process of healing," High wrote. "I need more intense counseling and therapy, and I need it now."

The district spokesperson said High submitted his resignation Tuesday, just a day after being placed on administrative leave. Metro Schools says it received a complaint on the Friday regarding potential "inappropriate conduct."

NewsChannel 5 Investigates obtained records showing that High was reprimanded in August 2015, right after he started a new job as the principal of Amqui Elementary School in Madison.

At the time, the district learned that nearly two years earlier, when High was an assistant principal at A.Z. Kelley Elementary in Antioch, he had sent "inappropriate text messages" to a teacher who worked there.

The reprimand detailed the allegations.

"In these texts, which you initiated, you invited him to come to your house, when your wife was scheduled to be out of town, to masturbate together," the reprimand said. "In another message, you asked him to measure his penis."

The teacher confronted High and asked him to stop sending the texts, which he did, the memo said.

High "admitted that the allegations ... were true," the reprimand said. "You did not have an explanation for your actions."

Last year, in May 2017, Metro Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph offered High the assignment as the principal for Smith Springs Elementary.

A summary in High's file noted that Joseph "acknowledged prior concerns with inappropriate text messages of a sexual nature."

"Dr. Joseph also stated that he would not tolerate inappropriate conduct of a similar nature in the future," another memo noted.

Then, last September, the district received another complaint about High sending emails, pressuring a Metro Schools employee for his mobile phone number even though, according to the investigation, the man hardly knew the Smith Springs principal.
 
That investigation concluded that the emails "did not rise to the level of sexual harassment."

Still the investigator added, "If [the victim] had complied with Principal High's request for his cell number, harassment may have been a real possibility."

High was, once again, warned about his behavior.
 
After NewsChannel 5 Investigates recently began investigating the district's handling of sexual harassment, the district sent out an email urging employees to speak up if they had concerns about the workplace culture.

It is not known if that outreach is what led to the latest complaint.

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