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BOE appoints Douthitt, changes name of magnet school

The Board of Education voted to appoint Darren Douthitt as superintendent, changed the name of the county’s magnet school, and rejected Dr. Charles Farmer’s resignation during a standing-room only meeting on Thursday night.

Douthitt, currently serving as assistant superintendent of Lee County Schools, was selected based on his interview with the board last Saturday. Douthitt received the highest grade of the four finalists who interviewed, said BOE president Billy Jones.

Also interviewing were Dr. Kathy Murphy, Allin Whittle – both assistant superintendents in Butler County – and South Carolina educator John R. Philips.

The board then voted to rename Butler County Magnet School to Georgiana School. A crowd of people applauded the move, including Georgiana Mayor Mike Middleton and County Commissioner Jerry Hartin (Dist. 1).

What precipitated the name change was the elimination of the school’s magnet program, caused by dwindling federal funds, said board members.

“It’s bittersweet, because a lot of people invested time in starting the magnet program,” said Hartin. “But the name is what it should be now.”

Butler County Magnet School opened the fall of 2009, consolidating the former Georgiana High School and Robert L. Austin Elementary School. The gymnasium in the school will be named R.L. Austin Gymnasium.

The name change is effective Oct. 1, 2010.

Interim Superintendent Joseph Dean recommended the board reject Greenville High principal Dr. Charles Farmer’s resignation. The board approved the recommendation unanimously, which was met by loud cheers from GHS parents and supporters.

Farmer submitted his resignation to Dean earlier this week and has been hired by former superintendent Mike Looney to be principal at a high school under construction in Tennessee. Looney left Butler County in December to become Director of Schools at the Williamson County School District.

Farmer did not attend the meeting on Thursday night.

The Advocate will update these stories as more news develops.