Incoming principal backs out of THS job

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The man chosen to replace Lee Stratton at Tupelo High School announced on Tuesday that he will remain in North Carolina.
Chris Barnes, the principal of a prekindergarten to eighth-grade school in Sparta, N.C., was announced as the new principal at THS at last week’s school board meeting.
That announcement prompted community unrest and several protests in favor of Stratton, a popular leader at the school.
Given that community tension, Barnes said, he decided to remain in his current job. He rescinded his acceptance of Tupelo’s offer.
“I didn’t feel like the public was targeting me in any way,” Barnes said. “I didn’t feel like it was personal. But I don’t feel like the support base would be there for me to move with family down there at this time.”
Barnes, 41, said it was not too late for him to keep his current job at Sparta Elementary.
“There are no hard feelings,” he said. “I am certainly disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to work with the people down there.”
It is not clear where this will leave Stratton. Outgoing Superintendent Randy Shaver had said Stratton would be reassigned to another school within the district. The board has not yet announced what that assignment will be, nor did it say if he will remain at THS.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or

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