An extensive collection of African animals that a school principal shot has been removed from his office.
Summerville High School Principal Buddy Chapel confirmed Monday that he had moved the hunting trophies -- a stuffed lioness, antelopes, wildebeests and other creatures -- that filled every wall.
The collection generated controversy after it was featured in a Jan. 19 story in The Post and Courier's Your Lowcountry section. And two people wrote letters to the editor urging Dorchester District 2 leaders to demand the animals be removed.
Pat Raynor, the district's spokes- woman, said district leaders were aware that some parents didn't like the display but didn't want to take sides in the debate.
"I'm sure they talked about it, but I'm not aware that there was any directive for him to remove them," she said.
Raynor said she had heard Chapel decided to move them because the controversy was becoming a distraction.
Chapel said Monday afternoon that he was in the middle of meeting with parents all day but would try to find time to talk more about the animals later. He could not be reached in the evening.
In a previous interview, Chapel said he told students when he first came to the school last fall that if the animals offended them, he would meet with them elsewhere. He said students generally thought the collection was cool.
"They have a great time," he said. "It's like a big zoo for them. It hasn't freaked any kids out that I know about."
Several people said the animals were taken out of the office over the weekend.
Alison Harvey of Summerville, one of the people who wrote a letter protesting the animals in Chapel's office, said she was glad they were gone.
"When there are so many controversial issues that students and teachers aren't allowed to discuss in a public school setting, why would something as controversial as this be permitted?" she said.
Marian Martin, a Charleston County teacher, wrote the other letter against the display.
"What message is he sending those kids?" she said Monday. "I just thought it was outrageous that he had all of that in his office. It's just in your face. I just don't think it has a place in the public school setting."
Another woman who wrote a letter defending Chapel's display could not be reached. In her letter, she praised Chapel's performance since he arrived at the school last fall.
"My impression is that he is a no-nonsense, make-things-happen man who cares about our children -- exactly what he must be to run a school of almost 3,000 teenagers," Tracy Searson of Summerville wrote.
Chapel moved to Summerville from Allentown, Pa., where he was a math teacher, middle-school principal and the district administrator for Middle School Strategic Initiatives.
A former Marine drill sergeant, he quickly made the news for enforcing the school's dress code, including suspending students with baggy pants worn too low. Public reaction to his tough discipline was generally favorable.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553.