COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. (WRIC) — After less than four years with the school division, Colonial Heights Public Schools officials announced Friday the departure of Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe.
The decision came after a Special Emergency Meeting, which was held in a closed session. However, the meeting agenda noted that the goal of the session was “to discuss the performance of the Superintendent.”
In an announcement posted to Facebook, officials said the separation was “mutual,” and that Dr. Sroufe would be taking a leave of absence, concluding with his departure. That leave began Saturday and is set to end on June 30.
“The school board will soon begin the search for a new superintendent and appoint an interim superintendent to manage the day-to-day operations in the meantime,” the post said. “We would like to thank Dr. Sroufe for his many contributions to our division.”
8News previously spoke with Sroufe in September 2020 regarding the transition to hybrid classes during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our parents, everybody’s been really gracious to us, and so we know that there’s some problems, and we’re just working through them as they come to us,” he said at the time.
The announcement of his departure also commended his work to keep Colonial Heights Public Schools open during the pandemic, “expanding instructional opportunities with Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, and refining best practices in the science of ready.”
However, more recently, Sroufe and the school division as a whole came under fire for allegations of mishandling accusations against former police chief and girls softball coach Jeff Faries. Faries was not charged with any criminal offenses, despite a special prosecutor on the case stating there was evidence that a crime was committed, because the statute of limitations had lapsed. In December 2022, state Del. Mike Cherry, who represents the City of Colonial Heights and part of Chesterfield County, asked Virginia State Police to investigate accusations that the allegations of inappropriate conduct by Faries were mishandled by school officials.
“Recent allegations that the school system has engaged in a cover-up regarding former softball coach Jeff Faries are disappointing and inaccurate. Colonial Heights Public Schools takes all complaints of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior very seriously,” Dr. Sroufe said in a statement to 8News at the time. “Concerns regarding Mr. Faries were investigated and addressed promptly and appropriately by school staff.”
More recently, in January 2023, a computer support paraprofessional at Colonial Heights’ North Elementary School was arrested as a person of interest in connection with “internet crimes against children,” according to the school division.
Before coming to Colonial Heights, Dr. Sroufe was previously employed as Patrick County Public Schools’ superintendent. There, he was named Regional Superintendent of the Year, but he would also be sued for defamation by a former principal of the school division, in a case that made its way to the Supreme Court of Virginia. Sroufe had appealed a Patrick County Circuit Court’s decision in 2017 to award $500,000 in damages to Muriel Waldron, and the higher court ruled in his favor.
Questions remain about the reason for Dr. Sroufe’s departure from Colonial Heights Public Schools. 8News reached out to school board members but has not received a response.
“[Superintendent Sroufe] oversaw updates to our playgrounds, message boards, HVAC systems, window packages, and security measures, as well as improvements to the fine arts wing of the high school,” the post announcing his departure said. “Dr. Sroufe’s administrative team also brought in more than a million dollars in competitive grants and improved our ranking in the Commonwealth on SOL performance.”