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2 popular Broward principals reassigned after arrests

Crisis counselors will be on hand Tuesday at two public schools whose principals were arrested in unrelated incidents over the weekend, Broward Schools Superintendent Jim Notter said.

The popular principals of Coral Park Elementary School in Coral Springs and Hallandale High School will both be reassigned to positions where they will not have contact with students, Notter said.

Amanda Miles, 60, was arrested Friday at her Coral Springs home after officers found 21 grams (less than an ounce) of marijuana in her bedroom. Her son, Michael, 18, was also arrested, accused of possession of 126 grams (4.4 ounces) with intent to distribute.

The next day, Hallandale High School Principal Darren Jones, 42, surrendered at the Broward Main Jail to face charges he beat his daughter with an electrical cord at his Cooper City home on Jan. 9. An arrest report indicated the 16-year-old girl suffered bruising and scarring as a result of the incident.

"Both [principals] are extremely well-liked by their faculties and communities," said Notter, explaining the need for counselors at the schools, which were closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Miles and Jones were the second and third school administrators to face criminal charges last week. On Wednesday, federal prosecutors charged Thomas Correa, an assistant principal at Lanier-James Education Center in Hallandale Beach, with attempted bank fraud.

Correa, 46, was caught in a sting targeting Francis Santa, who operated a Boca Raton company called Palm Beach Business Consultants. The FBI said Santa helped secure more than $10 million in fraudulent loans from 10 area banks. Correa, of Plantation, is accused of signing false tax returns for a corporation he owned, in order to obtain upward of $300,000 in bank loans, according to the charges against him.

He told a cooperating witness and an undercover FBI agent in June 2009 that he planned to use the money for real estate deals, according to court records.

Unlike the principals, Correa was allowed to stay in his job while his case works its way through the courts.

"All of Correa's financial responsibilities have been removed," said schools spokeswoman Nadine Drew. "The district believes his remaining would not have an adverse affect on the school's administrative and learning environment."

Students who bring drugs to school face suspension or expulsion, according to the district's code of conduct. But charges against Miles and her son did not involve the school, and parents at Coral Park said they continue to support her regardless of the accusations.

"I have nothing but the greatest respect for her," said Kelli Kurtz, a former member of the school's Parent Teacher Association. "I would have no reservations whatsoever about her returning. She needs to be back on Tuesday."

Miles, who earns $118,964 a year, will be reassigned to the school district's grants office in Fort Lauderdale, Notter said. Jones, who earns $109,692 a year, will also be reassigned, although officials have yet to decide where.

Marie Petit, whose daughter attends Hallandale High, said she was disappointed Jones will not be returning on Tuesday.

"He's a very good person," she said. "Forgive him. He needs to be back at the school."

Jones became principal 18 months ago. The school has had a C grade for the past three years, according to the district's website.

Jones' lawyer, Eric Schwartzreich, said the Jan. 9 dispute that led to his client's arrest was a family matter that should not involve lawyers and prosecutors.

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