Students at Whitehall-Yearling High School learned this morning, Dec. 11, that Principal Carl Svagerko has left the district -- but board members have been mum on the reason.

Students at Whitehall-Yearling High School learned this morning, Dec. 11, that Principal Carl Svagerko has left the district -- but board members have been mum on the reason.

School board members at their meeting Thursday, Dec. 10, unanimously accepted Svagerko's request for a sabbatical, effective today through July 31, and his subsequent resignation.

Superintendent Brian Hamler said Dec. 10 that Svagerko tendered the request Wednesday, Dec. 9, and it was added to an amended board-agenda issued Dec. 10.

"I can't comment any further," Hamler said after the Dec. 10 board meeting.

A press release the district issued Dec. 11 stated Svagerko was resigning "to pursue other career options."

Deputy Superintendent Mark Trace and Director of Secondary Education Kristen Barker met with Whitehall-Yearling High School staff Dec. 11, prior to the start of classes, to inform them what occurred at the board meeting.

"The teachers conveyed the message to the students (and) a note will be going home with students today to inform the parents," said Ty Debevoise, director of communications and marketing.

There was no discussion at the Dec. 10 board meeting concerning the action and Svagerko was not present.

Calls to Svagerko haven't been returned.

Anthony Arrington and Paul Smathers, both assistant principals at Whitehall-Yearling, will assume Svagerko's responsibilities for the remainder of the school year, with assistance from Barker, Trace and other administrators as necessary, Debevoise said.

"(Trace) was principal at Rosemore Middle School (before being named deputy superintendent) and knows (some of) the students at the high school," Debevoise said.

Svagerko was hired as principal of Whitehall-Yearling High School in July 2009. He was an assistant principal at Westerville North High School prior to being hired in Whitehall.

The assistant principals won't receive additional compensation, Debevoise said.

Svagerko is in the middle of a two-year contract that expires July 31, 2017.

His annual salary this year is $121,400 and the district will compensate him for the term of his sabbatical, with benefits, through July 31, Debevoise said.

His compensation with benefits is $171,235.

"He will forgo the last year of his contract," Debevoise said.

There will be no additional cost to the district through July 31, Debevoise said.

Immediately prior to the start of the Dec. 10 meeting, board President Walter Armes said he was aware of Svagerko's request before its appearance on the revised agenda, but would not say how it was communicated.

Armes called it "a personnel matter" and declined to discuss it further.

Board member Leo Knoblauch said Dec. 11 he could not discuss the matter.

"We aren't to talk about it," said Knoblauch, adding legal counsel had advised board members not to discuss the matter.

"But we weren't blindsided," said Knoblauch, adding board members were aware such a request was anticipated.

"We just didn't know the details until (the request was made)," Knoblauch said.

Board Vice President Blythe Wood also declined to comment other than it was the unanimous decision of the board to accept the request.

"I can't make any comment on that," board member Joy Bivens said.

Svagerko's latest evaluation was completed April 28 by Barker. While Svagerko did not receive the highest marks possible, there appeared to be no significant criticism.

The district's evaluation forms judge staff to be ineffective, developing, skilled or accomplished in a number of areas.

Svagerko was determined to be developing in three categories, skilled in 10 categories, and accomplished in one category, according to a principal performance rating rubric.

The weakest evaluation, developing, was for "principal makes regular classroom visits and provides basic feedback on classroom instruction."

Svagerko also received middling ratings for "principal mentors and supports new and struggling teachers" and "defines leadership team members' roles and provides leadership development activities for staff."

He received his highest praise in a parent and community engagement assessment for "arranges school-community partnerships to support student achievement and school and community priorities."

ThisWeekNEWS.com will post updates when more information becomes available.