Cottondale Principal

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A Jackson County school principal is heading back to the classroom, and a number of parents and students aren't happy about it.

Cottondale High Principal Steve Benton is being reassigned to a teaching role. Some are calling this a case of political payback on the part of school Superintendent Danny Sims.

Steve Benton has been the principal at Cottondale High School for the last four years. Prior to that he was the principal at Marianna High. Now, he says his future as an administrator is uncertain.

Steve says, "If it's something personal against me, I just hate that they're taking it on my kids. It's just sad, but it’s happening."

Benton ran for Jackson County School Board superintendent in last year's in election. He was defeated by current Superintendent Danny Sims by less than 600 votes.

“It was a very close race and I'm making plans of running next time. We've already started on the 08 election. I have a group of people that's out there already and this time he chooses not to rehire me."

Benton hasn't exactly said that Sims' decision to reassign him is politically motivated, but some students have formed their opinion.

Mitchell Whitehead, a CHS student, says, "We think that since Mr. Benton ran against Mr. Sims for the School Board superintendent seat that this may be some sort of retaliation against him for that."

They plan to present this petition disagreeing with the superintendent's actions to the School Board.

Kevin Kent, a CHS student, says, "We don't think it's the right decision that he's made. We don't think that his actual intent is for the focus of the students."

The petition highlights the improvement the school's made since Benton has been principal, and that not rehiring him would be a poor decision.

School Board Superintendent Danny Sims has said that he has plans to place Benton back in the classroom. Sims issued a written response to the allegations, saying it is his responsibility to place people where he feels they can best be utilized to help the Jackson County school system.