Flagler Palm Coast High School Principal Bob Wallace resigned this morning, less than 10 months after taking over the school’s leadership last August in the wake of the unexpected departure of Dusty Sims a day before the first day of the school year. Sims had taken a regional job with the state Department of Education.
For FPC, Wallace’s departure means the school will have its sixth principal in 14 years by the time school resumes in August. Wallace had been one of four applicants when the positioned opened last August, along with Jason Harrison, Travis Lee and Nickolas Schell. Mike Rinaldi, an assistant principal, is among the names heard as a possible successor this time. The position pays around $90,000.
With Sims, Bill Delbrugge, Jacob Oliva and Lynette Shott, all former principals who went on to higher administrative posts locally or with the state, the FPC principalship has invariably been a stepping stone since 2005. Wallace is an exception.
“I have decided to head back into retirement at the end of this month,” Wallace wrote in an email to school staff this morning, an email that at least hinted at a degree of unhappiness with the job that’s equivalent to running a small city with a population the size of Bunnell’s, at least compared to what he could be doing instead.
“I’ve taken time to reflect on our challenges and successes of the past year and I was looking forward to meeting a new school year head on,” Wallace wrote. “But I’ve also had the chance to look inward and speak with my family. It’s a constantly growing family, with grandchildren spread across the country. A recent Facetime call with my son and his young family inspired me to reevaluate where I was at this juncture in my life. Those grandkids are where my heart truly is.”
Unlike previous principals, Wallace had not scraped his way to the principalship through the system, neither as a teacher nor as a principal or assistant principal locally, as had been the case with every previous principal going back to Delbrugge (who’d been brought in from Georgia.) Tager, himself a former top administrator in Volusia County, brought Wallace out of retirement from there after he’d spent 13 years as principal of Seabreeze High School in Ormond Beach. Wallace had retired in 2015 after 35 years in education.
But it seemed as if Wallace was most heard from, throughout the community, when he’d record robocalls informing parents of security incidents, bomb scares, arrests or threats at the school, culminating in the shooting death of a student, Curtis Gray, on a weekend night away from school in the middle of April. “This past school year was not an easy one for any of us, but you all came together when we, and our students needed us most,” Wallace wrote the staff this morning. But he never seemed to fit in, exactly, or comfortably: he was conspicuously absent from the memorial for Gray in Central Park, for example.
“I have informed Superintendent Tager about my future and he supports me in this decision. He has let me know they will move quickly to find a new leader for FPC so that I can help ease the transition in any way I can,” Wallace concluded. “I value this past year and the friendships and connections I have made walking these halls. I wish you all only the best when you all return in August.”