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Naval Academy ousts head of R.I. prep school

By Brian Witte
Associated Press / September 1, 2009

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The head of a Rhode Island preparatory school that helps improve students’ chances at an appointment to the US Naval Academy was relieved of duty yesterday “for loss of confidence in his ability to command,’’ the prep school said.

Captain Leland Hart Sebring has been commanding officer of the US Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport since July 2007.

An academy spokesman declined to comment on why Sebring was relieved, citing privacy reasons.

“I can tell you that there was no misconduct involved,’’ Commander Joe Carpenter said.

Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler, the Naval Academy’s superintendent, said Captain Anthony Barnes, the academy’s chief diversity officer, who has also acted as a liaison to the prep school, has temporarily assumed the post.

The preparatory school is responsible for strengthening academic skills of about 300 potential candidates each year for the Naval Academy. A year at the school can improve a candidate’s chances of receiving an appointment to the academy in Annapolis and succeeding there.

The 10-month program, which lasts from August through May, emphasizes preparation in courses that tend to present the greatest hurdles to academic success at the Naval Academy, including English composition, math, chemistry, physics, and information technology.

The program also includes preparation in fitness and an introduction to military life, although academy students also include enlisted personnel seeking an appointment to the school to become officers.