Carlos Grant named interim principal at Washington High

Grant was principal of Metro Alternative High last school year

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Former Metro Alternative High Principal Carlos Grant has been picked as the interim principal of Washington High, Cedar Rapids school district officials announced Monday.

The coming school year will be the first at Washington in 35 years without Principal Ralph Plagman, who announced his retirement in the midst of the school district’s investigation into how his administration handled allegations that a 24-year-old substitute teacher, Mary Beth Haglin, was having sex with a student.

Grant, who became the district’s executive director of personalized learning and middle level education on July 1, will immediately transition to his new position, according to a district news release. He will head the school for the 2016-2017 school year, which begins Aug. 23, until a permanent principal is hired.

In the release, Grant said he is excited to join the “Warrior Family.”

“Being an educational champion is my primary focus in my life,” he said, according to the release. “I deeply believe that we have a responsibility to prepare citizens with the ability to thrive in this world. It is life or death for many of our students in this country, and I believe that education is the new currency.”

Grant joined the Cedar Rapids district in 2014 as the principal of Metro Alternative High. He has more than 17 years of experience in education, the release states.

In a Friday email to Washington students, Superintendent Brad Buck said the interim principal is expected to maintain the traditions of Washington High.

“This will be important for each of you, but especially for our seniors,” Buck wrote. “Senior year is special and we want to honor that experience. In visiting with students recently, I have had it reinforced to me there are many traditions which are seen by students as priorities.”

Buck also expects Grant to lead the work leading up to Washington High’s transition to a permanent principal, he said.

“When we interview the candidates, we will be listening for stability for the coming school year,” Buck wrote Friday.

The hiring process for a permanent principal will begin in January, school board President John Laverty said Aug. 3.

The permanent principal will be selected in March with the school board approving the hire in March or April.

Associate Principal and Athletic Director Michael Johnson, 57, has also retired. The athletic director position has been posted as interim.

Grant’s hiring comes after district officials asked longtime Principal Plagman to step down, Plagman has said, and in the midst of officials’ investigation of the teacher-student sex scandal that has unfolded at Washington High over the last few months.

Haglin, a substitute teacher, was charged with sexual exploitation in late July. She has since admitted publicly to having sex with a 17-year-old Washington High student throughout her time working at the high school.

Administrators at Washington High heard rumors of the inappropriate relationship as early as February, district officials have said, and conducted an investigation. In an interview with The Gazette, Haglin named Plagman, 72, and Johnson as the administrators involved in the February probe — which only lasted one day, Buck has said, and does not appear to have been conducted in line with district policy.

A second investigation in May led to Haglin’s removal from the school, but did not prompt anyone in the school district to contact police.

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