Tarpon Springs, Florida -- Parents and students are rallying behind a high school assistant principal whose contract has not been renewed.

While Tarpon Springs High School Assistant Principal Wayne McKnight can reapply with the district for another position,many at Tarpon Springs High School want him to stay.

"If you have someone that students look up to and respect it's worth their reconsideration," says Renee Crews, a parent of a 10th grader at Tarpon Springs High.

Surrounded by students iswhen Assistant Principal Wayne McKnight says he feels the most comfortable and happiest.

"It is my family, it is my home," says McKnight.

"He is Tarpon High. Everyone knows him, everyone likes him," says 9th grader Tristan Karatonis.

"He's a dedicated loving administrator. In today's world of cold calculated administrators who are number crunchers, he's a breath of fresh air," says senior Nicholas Tabus.

Nicholas says McKnight cares so much about the school that one summer he mowed the school lawn when custodial help was low.

That's the type of administrator students and parents say he's been since 2003 but that era appears to be ending. Principal Clint Herbic is not renewing McKnight's contract and students and parents are trying to change Herbic's mind and are rallying to keep McKnight.

Parents and students have set up a Facebook page called "Keep Mr. McKnight at Tarpon High". The page has nearly 400 people supporting him. A petition drive is also underway online.

"I think if this gentleman has been here 10 years he's doing something right," says Kim Kimmel.

She says she transferred her son because of the good discipline and structure.

"Discipline comes from the top down. Mr. McKnight has been here 10 years he's the one that set most of that structure."

McKnight says he has done everything he believes is right for students and parents.

"I'm very dedicated and passionate about this community. I'm touched by the way the parents and kids have responded. That's what I'm all about here, for these kids and thecommunity."

Some students and parents say McKnight is out of a job because there's a clash of leadership styles between McKnight and Principal Herbic.

The principal is not commenting.

According to the Pinellas School District's Office of Professional Standards, McKnight has had some disciplinary issues.

In September, he served one day's suspension without pay for altering the attendance records for 22 students without following proper school board procedures and because of iteight students were exempt from final exams last year.

Then in February, he received a letter of reprimand for once again not following school district policy when filling a coaching position andtwo volunteer positions on the softball team.

Students and parents are holding an organizational meeting at Howard Park at 7:30 tonight shelter #3. The group plans to take their case to the Pinellas School Board's next meeting on June 12.

Read or Share this story: