Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Colonial Forge principal resigns

UPDATE: Karen Spillman has resigned as Colonial Forge High School’s principal, the school division announced tonight.

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Lisa Martin will supervise the school until an interim principal is assigned. The division will conduct a search to fill the vacancy.

Around 30 Colonial Forge High School teachers showed up to tonight’s Stafford County School Board meeting to support the embattled principal.

Al Watkins was the only teacher to speak before the School Board, but his colleagues gave him a standing ovation.

“Dr. Spillman encourages an environment of camaraderie, values our professional opinions, and has a friendly, approachable spirit,” Watkins said.

The School Board is currently in closed session to discuss a personnel matter. Members added that item to tonight’s agenda.

Spillman, who became Colonial Forge’s principal in August after serving as an assistant principal since March, has received a lot of criticism since a well-publicized incident with a student in a banana costume.

She recommended that sophomore Bryan Thompson, 14, be suspended for the rest of the school year after he ran onto Colonial Forge’s football field during half-time of a game in a banana costume earlier this month. She said in a letter to the student’s mom that Bryan had been disrespectful to an administrator and disrupted an activity, among other violations of the student code of conduct.

Many, including students, thought the punishment was too severe.

Last week, Colonial Forge students wore yellow T–shirts with sayings such as “Free banana man.” Administrators told them to remove the shirts, and some students received Saturday detention as punishment for their protest.

Watkins commended the division’s hiring of Spillman despite the recent controversy.

 “With all that we have experienced in the short time since the school year began, we knew that decision was the right decision,” he said.

He later added: “The recent media coverage and online discussions…might have distracted us from our mission yet we steadfastly maintain a focus on instruction and meeting our students’ needs.”