KINGMAN - After two weeks away from school, students at Cedar Hills returned to classes with a new face in the principal's office.
The change came after the Hackberry School District Governing Board voted Monday at a special board meeting to maintain Principal Brad Ellico on paid non-administrative leave and appointed Emmett Brown interim administrator.
Since the board placed Ellico on non-administrative leave with pay on March 13, the investigation has continued into Ellico by a special investigator from the Mohave County Attorney's Office into concerns raised by members of the public and the board.
As with the March 13 special board meeting, those specific concerns behind the investigation weren't shared by the board.
An update on the status of the investigation was unknown due to the board going into a one hour and 20 minute executive session to discuss the investigation. The only thing clear was the investigation isn't done.
With the Call to the Public removed from the meeting and more time spent by the board in executive session than open meeting, the gathered members of the public used the opportunity to relate to each other.
While it was clear the group wasn't unanimous on their thoughts on the current actions of the board, the public agreed the district needed to work together for the benefit of the students.
With confirmation from board attorney Geraldine Miller that the physical evidence needed for the investigation could be removed before classes began on Tuesday, board member Rick Mauldin asked his peers to return Ellico to his position.
"We're short on money and we'd be paying two administrators simultaneously," Mauldin said.
Board president Laurie Lawson and board member Naomi Barholz did not share Mauldin's opinion.
In a 2-1 vote, the board voted to leave the status of Ellico on administrative leave effective without a 30-day limit suggested by Mauldin.
"I think it's best that we continue on so we can get done as soon as possible," Lawson said.
Ellico was present at the meeting and waived discussing his leave during an executive session.
He described his leave as house arrest and not to the benefit of the students at the school.
"If anybody knows what the kids need starting tomorrow is me and the rest of the staff," Ellico said, "not some guy who has to come in to get his feet wet."
After nearly 40 minutes in executive, the board unanimously voted to place Brown as interim principal/superintendent.
He will receive an $8,000 monthly salary and benefits with an additional $1,000 a month for expenses.
Brown is overseeing operations at Cedar Hills while the investigation continues - however long it takes.
"We'll see how things go," Brown said on Tuesday in a phone interview.
"Everything is operating and the kids are in classes."
This is the third interim superintendent assignment for Brown in approximately 18 months. From a two-week stint to a 16-week stay, Brown served as interim superintendent for Peach Springs and Tuba City unified school districts.
With more than 20 years experience in education, Brown oversaw Mohave Valley Elementary go from 700 students to 2,200 students during his 18 years there. He retired from the position four years ago.