Students’ parents, grandparents optimistic after Cartwright named interim superintendent

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — Parents and grandparents of students at McCracken County High School say they are optimistic after the school board appointed an interim superintendent Monday.

In a 4-1 vote, the McCracken Board of Education named Assistant Superintendent Heath Cartwright as interim superintendent following Brian Harper’s resignation last week.  Although it’s unclear why he stepped down, it happened amid investigations by the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department into allegations of sex crimes, inappropriate communications and official misconduct involving former and current members of McCracken County High School.

Retired teacher Manda Blackwell, who was at McCracken County High School Monday to pick up her grandchild, said she isn’t surprised by Cartwright’s new role.

“My husband and I had talked about it. He’s also a retired educator. We had talked about it, and we figured it would be Heath,” she said. “Heath has been in the system for a long time, and we’re very familiar with him. And so, yes, he’ll step right in and do a good job.”

Kelly Denson, a parent of a student at the high school, said appointing an interim superintendent is a good step. “I’m glad they finally got someone in there, you know, that can help take care of the students and kind of lead the school where it needs to go,” said Denson.

As for the investigations at the high school, Denson said they have affected her child. “She went through the stages — shock at first, and then she was sad and a little worried about what was going to happen with the school and what changes were going to take place and everything,” Denson said.

Despite everything that’s happened in recent weeks, Blackwell said her grandchildren are resilient. “It really has not affected their education whatsoever. They have maintained their working habits, their working skills. I think they’ve been a little surprised and a little saddened about what’s going on, as we all have been. But it hasn’t hindered them — not one bit,” Blackwell said.

Parents and grandparents are also optimistic that things will return to normal.

“I’m sure it will. We got some good people in this part of the country, and I’m sure that just one or two bad apples is not going to ruin the whole barrel, you know?” said Jack Perdew, a grandparent of a student at the high school.

“Many good educators in this system — excellent educators in this system,” Blackwell said. “A lot of good kids at this school. They will get back to it, and I’m very optimistic. I’m very optimistic about our future.”

Cartwright plans to retire from the district by June 30, so the school board needs to find a permanent superintendent by July 1.

You can find out more information about this story and others by following Chris Yu on Facebook and Twitter.