Assistant Principal Mike Norris will no longer be working at LHS, Superintendent Anthony Lewis announced in a letter to faculty and parents today.
Norris will be replaced by Quentin Rials, who has been an instructional coach at West Middle School prior to this appointment.
Rials will be taking over a position with numerous responsibilities. Norris oversaw the ESOL and math departments. His administrative duties also included crisis management, security and evacuation drills, building maintenance and facilities, and assessments. He also was assigned to students with last names starting with the letters S-Z.
Many staff members were still unsure of what the changes would mean.
“He [Norris] has a very good knowledge of the safety aspect of the school, and he also has a really broad knowledge about the building and the maintenance, too, so I think it’s going to be a big loss not to have him here,” art teacher Deena Amont said. “Honestly I don’t know what’s going to happen with any of those things.”
Norris had played a big role in the bond issue planning for an overhaul of LHS, but those duties will now go to principal Matt Brungardt, according to Julie Boyle, executive director of communications for USD 497. Boyle, who said she had spoken to Brungardt about plans, said Norris’ other responsibilities would be transferred to Rials.
“Right now I think those things are delegated amongst the other assistant principals and the head principal,” Rials said. “But as I am here a little bit longer some of the same things that the previous assistant principal was doing will be delegated to me.”
Before teaching at West Middle School, Rials was a middle school math teacher and coach in Fort Worth, Texas. Rials also has six years of experience in law, working for a multinational corporation and the state of Kansas, according to Lewis’ letter.
“I think all of that experience combined together along with my education, right now I’m working on my doctorate in educational administration, and just my love of students and education and learning and first and foremost I want to keep kids safe, I want students to learn,” Rials said. “I think that combination helps me be prepared for this position.”
But perhaps the most interesting part of Rials background is his connection to Lawrence High School. Rials graduated from LHS in 1995.
“He was a good student, very professional, very thoughtful, got his work done,” said teacher David Platt. “He was also a student athlete here, so he played baseball.”
In his letter to staff and parents, Superintendent Lewis said there would be opportunities for people to meet and welcome Rials to the school.
“Hopefully he will be supportive of the staff and students at Lawrence High School,” Platt said.
Above all, Rials wants the LHS community to know just how deep his connection is to this area and how much he cares for students’ education.
“I’m from Lawrence, I graduated from here in 1995, I’ve gone to basically every college in Northeast Kansas, played baseball at JCCC, I redshirted a year at KU, graduated from Baker, played baseball there too, I was on the last team to win a state basketball championship here in 1995 as well, I got a master’s from KU, I have a law degree from Washburn, and I’ve always come back to Lawrence, I love it here I love the community,” Rials said. “So I’m very passionate about helping the students here.”
Norris had worked in the district since 2006, Boyle said. She said he taught English at West Junior High for three years and became an assistant principal at LHS during the 2009-2010 school year. His future with the district is unclear.
“The Human Resources Office advises that his current role with the Lawrence Public Schools is under review,” Boyle said.
The Budget reached out to Norris on Twitter on Monday afternoon but didn’t immediately receive a response.