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Allegheny

Woodland Hills hires new high school principal

Jamie Martines
| Tuesday, July 3, 2018, 1:36 p.m.
The Woodland Hills School District has hired  Phillip K. Woods to serve as the new high school principal.
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The Woodland Hills School District has hired Phillip K. Woods to serve as the new high school principal.

Woodland Hills School District has hired Phillip K. Woods to serve as the new high school principal.

School board documents show the board held a special meeting Monday to vote on the hiring. Woods' annual salary will be $122,500.

"What I'm looking forward to is becoming a part of the community, learning more about the school," Woods, who lives in New Sewickley Township, said Tuesday.

He previously served as a principal in the Penn Hills School District and as high school principal in the West Mifflin School District.

Woods operates a consulting firm, P.W. Diversity and Equity Resources, LLC. He said he plans to continue serving as a paid diversity and equity consultant to Gateway School District.

Woods grew up in Aliquippa and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in education. He received his master's degree and principal certification from Slippery Rock University.

Woods completed a doctorate of education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2017.

As principal at Woodland Hills, Woods said he will oversee grades seven through 12, which are housed at the junior-senior high school building on Greensburg Pike in Churchill.

"The kids are going to see me throughout the day, in the halls, in the classrooms," Woods said.

He hopes to make sure the school is a more welcoming place for students as the new school year approaches.

"That is going to be my role, is helping to bridge the gap between the school and the community," Woods said.

Mike Belmonte, school board vice president, confirmed the hiring.

"We're all absolutely excited about that, for sure," Belmonte said. "We feel we've got a good candidate."

Candee Nagy served as acting high school principal during the past school year. She had been an assistant principal and was appointed after former principal Kevin Murray resigned in August following several controversies involving treatment of students dating to last November.

A year ago, the state Department of Education delayed renewing Murray's teaching certification amid the high-profile controversies.

Authorities investigated an incident in which an audio recording surfaced of him allegedly threatening a 14-year-old special education student.

Murray can be heard on the recording saying, "I'll punch you right in your face, dude," and "I'll knock your (expletive) teeth down your throat." Murray did not face charges in connection with the incident.

Murray's actions are noted in a federal lawsuit against the Woodland Hills School District alleging that school resource officers and administrators violated the civil rights of students. The lawsuit alleges a longstanding culture of violence inside the high school in which adults, including a Churchill police officer, beat up students while administrators either assisted, looked the other way or remained indifferent.

Superintendent Alan Johnson retired at the end of this school year. The school board is searching for a candidate to replace him.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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