Rick Quarles has served as principal of the school since it opened about five years ago, but will be leaving his position at Sugar Hill this month for another administrative position in the Hall County school system, according to Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools.
"He's going to be in the county, but we haven't decided where that assignment is going to be yet," Schofield said. "We're looking at some different options. He and I both mutually agreed it was a good time for a change ... and a good time for Sugar Hill."
An interim principal will be in place by mid-July and will lead the school until a permanent principal is appointed, Schofield said. He added that Sugar Hill holds some challenges for the incoming principal.
Schofield said roughly 85 percent of students at Sugar Hill receive free school lunches. Since the school opened, more Latino students have enrolled, and it now boasts a student population that is about two-thirds Latino. And half of its students speak English as a second language, Schofield said.
Thirty to 40 percent of Hall County elementary schools are comprised of mostly Latino students or are approaching a majority Latino student body, he said.
Schofield said leadership is a big part of any school, and it's important to have the right person to lead schools as they change.
"One of the most important things we do as a system is making sure that not only do we have the right people on the bus, but that they're in the right seat on the bus," Schofield said.
"And so that's what we're continually doing, getting people plugged into the right place.
"Sugar Hill is a very unique situation. It's a high poverty school," he said. "And what I would really like to find is somebody that has been there, done that, who knows how to take a high poverty school and put some processes in place to move them forward in a very short time."
Schofield pointed to the new leadership at Lyman Hall Elementary and Myers Elementary schools as examples of the progress made at schools where there are many of what Schofield calls "fragile students," who are impoverished or learning to speak English.
Two years ago, new principals were brought on board at both elementary schools. "We've seen tremendous gains at those schools," Schofield said. "In general, the higher the poverty, the higher percentage of fragile learners. You need a much more structured approach to delivering instruction to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind."
With the opening of school just around the corner, he said now is not an ideal time to look for a new principal since most potential candidates already have signed a contract for this school year.
Schofield said he believes an experienced person will serve as an interim principal at Sugar Hill Elementary for up to two years while administrators and board members search for a more permanent candidate. Schofield did not say if he had a specific candidate in mind for the interim or permanent positions.