Panama City Beach, FL-- There is a change coming within Arnold High School's athletic department. The school's one and only athletic director in it's 12 year history, Julie Hale is leaving that post!
Late Wednesday afternoon, Hale emailed Newschannel 7 Sports the following statement, which tells of her leaving the job at the end of this school year:
"Pursuant to Bay County School Board policy, I unfortunately will no longer serve as Arnold High School's athletic director. I am extremely proud of the many accomplishments Arnold's athletic program has achieved over the last 12 years--county championships to state championships, countless top awards from the state, and 74 college athletic scholarships our student-athletes received."
"I thank all of the amazing student-athletes, coaches, parents, and Beach community for all of their hard work and support that has made Arnold High School's athletic program one of the top in the State of Florida!"
Arnold Athletic Director
The statement reads she's proud of her accomplishments, including numerous athletic scholarships. She thanks the students coaches and boosters over the years.
The statement, by use of the word unfortunately, indicates she's not leaving of her own accord, instead making reference to a policy that prohibits anyone from serving in a supervisor's role over a spouse. Her husband James is the head football coach at Arnold. That policy was in effect when they were hired, and has been in effect ever since.
What's changed? A couple of months ago the school board released a written report, based on allegations made by parents of another school, and some student athletes who had transferred out of Arnold, accusing Arnold football boosters of giving kids gift cards and other benefits, even housing.
Nothing in that report was ever proven, and the school board actually rescinded parts of it. Still that report forced a spotlight on the program.
Principal Keith Bland said this Wednesday about the change:
"You know I think that if Julie had the choice I'm sure that she'd continue to be the athletic director here at Arnold High School. But you know there are district policies as far as employment status between husband and wife that we need to adhere to. It's unfortunate because she's done a great job with the school and all the things that's she's done. And I don't want the latest, the allegations that was looked into without any evidence of any wrongdoing happening, have any tie to why as far as her stepping down as athletic director, because she's done a wonderful job for this school."
Mr. Bland says he'll advertise the position in-house when the school year ends. Hale will remain at Arnold as a business teacher.