Flagler-Palm Coast High principal dies after battle with COVID-19

James ‘Tom’ Russell previously served as Volusia County superintendent

Flagler Palm Coast High principal Tom Russell.
Flagler Palm Coast High principal Tom Russell. (Flagler Palm Coast High)

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – Flagler-Palm Coast High School principal James “Tom” Russell died Tuesday weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to Flagler County School District officials.

Russell, who was also a former Volusia County superintendent, tested positive for the virus on Nov. 16 while he was already in quarantine. Russell shared in a statement after his positive result he was suffering from mild symptoms but warned, “this is nothing like the flu! Covid wrecks the body in so many ways ...”

Russell had been in quarantine since Nov. 9 after he was notified of possible exposure through a school-related contact trace.

On Wednesday, the school district announced Russell’s passing.

“The Flagler Schools family sends our prayers to Julie Russell and her children. Tom was a valued member of our district, a person everyone leaned on for advice and counsel,” Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt said. “He was quick with a smile and word of encouragement. He had the ability to bring calm to the most hectic moments.”

Russell was superintendent in Volusia County for more than two years until June 2019.

“We were all elated when Tom agreed to come to Flagler County to become FPC’s principal. To have an educator of his stature and experience was invaluable. He truly cared about everyone on that campus,” Flagler County School Board Chairman Trevor Tucker said. “This is a loss, not only for Flagler-Palm Coast High School and Flagler Schools but for all of us in education in the state.”

A crisis response team of counselors will be available on the Flagler-Palm Coast High School campus.

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