Columbia County's schools often have had a stormy record when it comes to welcoming outside leadership.
But as this past week's firing of Randy Hill at Lakeside High School shows, insiders aren't guaranteed sunny skies, either.
Back in 2001, Lakeside went through a PR wringer: Victor Lee had replaced the school's first and only principal, Julius McAnally, who had retired along with football coach Steve Crislip. Lee then hired another outsider, Ed Koester, as athletic director and football coach.
Football boosters were disappointed that Hill, an assistant coach, had been passed over for the post. They never gave Koester a chance. Once the parents discovered Lee lied about a minor infraction on Koester's record in Texas, blood was in the water. The two eventually quit.
Greenbrier Middle School Principal Jeff Carney became the new principal, and gave the boosters what they wanted: Randy Hill, who had been with Lakeside since it opened in 1988, became head football coach and athletic director.
Hill's promotion was seen as a reward for faithful service, and he soon proved himself up to the task by building a broad-based program at Lakeside. The diversity of sports helped Lakeside win the Director's Cup for Columbia County high schools last year, an award that recognizes the success of a school's athletic programs.
Alas, Hill's football teams were a different story, and the recent season was especially dismal. Lakeside won its first game, and then posted just one more victory en route to a 2-8 record.
The parental winds that carried Hill into his job also helped blow him out. Though Carney says he wants Hill to stay as a teacher, Hill will no longer be football coach and athletic director.
The obvious danger of allowing parents to exert such influence is that different parents of different players will soon pass through the school, and the coach who makes this regime happy might not be as welcome with the next group.
Carney says he'll seek parent input in hiring a new coach. That makes sense, as parents had a hand in snuffing the current one.
Whomever is chosen, the next coach and athletic director - insider or outsider - should be hired not to sway with whatever parental winds are blowing, but to work for the long-term success of the school.
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