Steve Payne, principal of Allen High School, has retired. District officials made the announcement on Tuesday, but didn’t give many details.
Steve Payne has been with the Allen Independent School District for 18 years, and he’s been the principal at the high school for nearly a decade.
He told The Dallas Morning News he was placed on administrative leave because of questions raised about his spending. He said he did nothing wrong. District Spokesman Tim Carroll wouldn’t elaborate on Payne’s decision.
“It’s a 100 percent his own decision," Carroll said. "He decided to retire and he wrote a letter to the staff ... and announced his retirement … You can terminate somebody, but you can’t retire somebody."
Payne has not responded to KERA’s requests for an interview. Carroll said Superintendent Lance Hindt received Payne’s resignation letter Monday night.
In a statement, Hindt said that because this is a personnel issue, the district would not release information it considers confidential.
"For some time, the district has been conducting a review of procedures and an auditing of campus and department financials," the statement reads. "This is a common practice done to ensure that we are being worthy stewards of public funds and trust. It is the school district’s procedure to conduct an accounting review whenever there is a change in school or department leadership, and as such, a review of Allen High School financials will continue."
Hindt also confirmed that currently nothing has been reported to local authorities or the State Board of Educator Certification.
Payne’s presided over two decades of explosive growth in the district. The most publicized part of his tenure came when huge cracks were found in the school’s $60 million football stadium. It had to be closed for more than a year.
Two Allen High School associate principals, Jackie Schornick and Matt Russell, will oversee the school until a successor is selected.
Here's the letter Payne sent to faculty and staff:
Allen High School Faculty and Staff,
My letter today is to announce my intention of retiring from AISD. It is with a heavy heart and extreme humbleness that I write this letter to you to announce my intentions.
At the beginning of the school year, I was energized and ready for a fulfilling and successful year. As the first few weeks went by, it was evident to me that the last 13 years as AHS Principal has come to an end. With that said, I truly believe AHS has everything in place to more successful in the years to come. It also has had amazing accomplishments in student and staff success for the last decade and will continue on that path. It is truly one of the most successful high schools in all of Texas and a leader among the nation’s top public high schools. All the teachers and support staff are the unsung heroes and deserve all the credit. The job of instruction and instructional support has never been more rewarding or demanding. You all have risen and exceeded the expectations of innovation, creativity, and engaging students in their learning. Your dedication to do what is best for students should be celebrated and acknowledged for years to come.
I believe in the AHS teacher leadership, and administrative leadership to carry the school forward with greater success than ever envisioned. Allen High School and AISD is THE best school district and high school in the state and no longer a best-kept secret.
I am confident in my decision to step aside and my family and I are blessed beyond belief as we start a new chapter in our lives as we seek out a new destiny. I will miss the students of AHS and leading you the faculty and staff. Please know that my decision is definitely anointed with great confidence and resolve. Even-though it is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, I know it is what is best for my family.
Superintendent Lance Hindt's complete statement regarding Payne's decision:
I am sure that many factors went into Mr. Payne’s decision to retire. Regarding specific details, the District maintains that this is a personnel matter and as such, will not release information that we consider confidential in nature. Aside from the safety and care of our students and staff, there is no responsibility this District takes more seriously than the stewardship of public funds. For some time, the District has been conducting a review of procedures and an auditing of campus and department financials. This is a common practice done to ensure that we are being worthy stewards of public funds and trust. It is the school district’s procedure to conduct an accounting review whenever there is a change in school or department leadership, and as such, a review of Allen High School financials will continue. Mr. Payne made the voluntarily decision to retire during this time, and we respect his decision on the matter. While I will not speak about specific personnel issues, I can confirm that at this time, there is nothing that would require a report to the local authorities or the State Board of Educator Certification regarding any district employee.