Published Dec. 21, 2022
BY EMMA BROWN
Effective immediately, CHS principal Jon Lyons has been placed on a leave of absence by the Carmel Unified School District, with no date set for his return to campus.
Because of the confidential nature of personnel matters, Superintendent Ted Knight said in the interview with The Sandpiper on Tuesday that CUSD is unable to comment on the cause for Lyons’ absence, but he did explain that the administrator’s absence is not health related and not due to inappropriate behavior with a student. Knight noted that he is unable to disclose whether an investigation is pending.
After Knight sent out an email to the CHS community Dec. 16, questions circulated about how the district would mitigate the effects of the principal’s absence. During finals week, the week of Dec. 19-23, assistant principals Debbi Puente and Craig Tuana, as well as district officials including Knight himself, have stood in for Lyons and shared his responsibilities.
“For the most part, teachers felt that, because of finals week, the school is going to run itself,” says Knight. “Because the week is primarily half days, everybody felt comfortable getting through the week.”
Though the district has tried to keep the focus on students during the week, the students themselves have been speculating as to the cause of Lyons’ absence, and some teachers note that the principal’s departure has caused a disruption among the staff.
“It’s just one more change around school, and here’s our leader who disappeared and no one is telling us why,” says CHS English teacher Carli Barnett. “It’s affecting morale, and as far as I can tell, it’s making people feel unsettled.”
If Lyons does not resume his position by Jan. 9, the day when staff return from winter break, the district will search for an interim principal, either hiring a retired principal or district office employee to fill the position.
“It’s difficult to find an educator right now,” says Knight. “But the good news is that we’re in Carmel and it’s a great place with great kids and great staff. If there’s somebody out there who wants to work in education, they’re going to choose this school.”