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Students Fight for Newcastle Principal

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The principal greets students as they walk to their next class. The principal greets students as they walk to their next class.
Students are petitioning to save their principal, whom they support. Students are petitioning to save their principal, whom they support.
By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

NEWCASTLE, Oklahoma -- A fight is brewing in Newcastle. On one side is the high school principal, who's been working in the system for almost four decades. On the other is the superintendent, who says the principal is ignoring his duties.

The principal seems to have student support, but that may or may not be enough.

When you've been a high school principal for 37 years like Joe Cox you see a lot of students come and go.

"We'll, I've been here so own kids," Cox said.

Some of his students said they feel the same about him.

"He's just like another father figure at school," student Christina Hobbs said. "Instead of having one at home, you have one at school, too."

"I think he's a pretty good principal, better than any other principal I've ever had," student Jordan Lee Campbell said.

But soon it may be Joe Cox who is going.

Newcastle Superintendent Dr. Robert Everett has recommended that Cox's contract not be renewed because of excessive absences from work. The Superintendent says surveillance videos show Cox has left the high school ground 21 times since early January.

Cox won't discuss the absences or the reasons for them, but students say he's probably taking time for his sick wife.

"I only know she has cancer, and if he had left it's just to go check up on her and he comes right back if he does," Hobbs said.

Several students have signed a petition supporting their principal.

"We're just kinda supporting our principal of around 38 years cause he's being forced to retire, and we just think that's a lot of disrespect from the administration and we don't agree with it," student Katrina Jones said.

Others are wearing T-shirts on behalf of the man known as "the Fox."

"Of course everyone likes to be liked, just like everyone else," Cox said.

Cox just hopes a majority of the school board still likes him too.

For legal reasons, the superintendent couldn't discuss the Cox matter. No date has been set for a hearing on Cox's contract, but the principal says he will represent himself when it occurs.

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