Zachary Leonard File Image

Zachary Leonard, principal of the Academy of Environmental Science in Crystal River, pictured in March 2017.

Academy of Environmental Science Principal Zachary Leonard resigned from his position Thursday, Jan. 14, ending his almost four years as the local public charter school’s leader.

Michelle Leeper, chairwoman of the academy’s board of directors, announced the news Friday in a message to families of the around 120 ninth- and 10th-grade high schoolers enrolled at the campus, established in 1999 at West Fort Island Trail’s crossing over the Salt River near Crystal River.

Leeper said Phil McLeod, Crystal River High School’s assistant principal, will act as the academy’s interim principal until a permanent replacement is found.

“We’ve always had a great partnership with the Citrus County School Board,” she said in her message, “and will continue to move forward together through this transition.”

New helmsman steps up

Leonard taught nine years for the Citrus County School District, according to prior Chronicle reports, before he accepted a job in March 2017 to be the academy's principal.

Leeper told the Chronicle on Friday she doesn’t know the reason for Leonard’s resignation.

“I only know he officially resigned,” she said, “and the school district was made aware of it.”

Leonard’s salary is paid by the academy and school district, according to school district spokeswoman Lindsay Blair, who said Leonard did not submit a letter of resignation. 

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916, or visit to see more of his stories.