West High gets a new interim principal, while Salt Lake City School District investigates former leader

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) A student carries a sign in support of principal Ford White during a walkout at West High School in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.

Students at West High School — who last month walked out of class when their principal was placed on leave — will have a new leader beginning Tuesday.

The school’s new interim principal will be Stacey Briggs, a 20-year veteran educator who has been with the Salt Lake City School District since 2018 as the director of Focus Schools.

Superintendent Lexi Cunningham, who made the announcement Monday in an email to West High parents and community members, said she was confident that Briggs could provide “strong leadership" at the urban school with a student population that is 64% minority. “She shares my commitment to providing our West High School students with equitable educational opportunities to prepare them for a promising future.”

(Photo courtesy of Salt Lake City School District) Stacey Briggs has been named West High School interim principal.

Briggs replaces Ford White, who was placed on leave in mid-November, shortly after officials learned that he drove two female students — who had been drinking alcohol — home in a personal car. Both girls said they believe if White had called police, they would have been suspended.

“The Salt Lake City School District is continuing to review the matter,” White’s attorney, Michael J. Teter, wrote in an email to The Tribune, "and we therefore have no comment.”

Cunningham’s letter to the community also did not give details about the investigation.

“While our policy remains to not comment on personnel matters," she wrote, "what I can share with you is that student safety has been our number one focus throughout this investigation.”

Briggs, a former high school and junior high school principal, as well as a former math and Spanish teacher, helped start the International Baccalaureate program at Ogden High School, where she served as principal from 2011-2016.

The demographics at the northern Utah school are similar to West’s, Cunningham noted.

Briggs is fluent in Spanish and has a background in Gifted and Talented Education. She holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics education from Brigham Young University.

In 2013, she was named Ogden School District’s “Administrator of the Year," and in 2009, while working at Provo High School, was a finalist for “Assistant Principal of the Year."