Principal agrees to step down from Imagine North Port

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NORTH PORT – In a major development about the future of Imagine School North Port, it appears an agreement has been reached in the ongoing legal battle between local board members and the Imagine School parent company -- and it includes a change in leadership.

Justin Matthews, the principal at the center of the issue is out. This week both sides came to an agreement, putting aside their differences. But all parties decided Matthews must leave once the school year comes to an end.

"I am humbled and grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such a great staff at Imagine. I plan to finish the school year strong," says Matthews.

You may remember a couple of months ago Matthews and the board with the local chapter decided to break away from the parent company to become independent. In response, the parent company sued.

But this week during mediation, both sides resolved their differences.

As for Matthews, he's not commenting on the situation. It's fair to say there are some parents who are upset, and others say it’s time to turn the page. “It was very uncharacteristic of him, in my opinion, for this whole thing to even happen. He’s always been on the straight and narrow, and I didn’t know how to judge the situation. But at this point, with the dishevelment that’s going on between Imagine, Inc. and Mr. Matthews, I think it’s best that the relationship be split,” says parent Nikki Squiciarino.

The terms of the agreement with the two parties and Matthews are confidential, according to the attorney representing the parent company.

In a statement issued Thursday, Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Lori White says: "We’re pleased that the parties have reached an agreement to resolve their differences regarding Imagine School at North Port. It’s important that students, parents and staff know the status of their school as they plan for the next school year. This successful mediation allows everyone to move forward."