James Edward Aiken Jr., principal at Villa Heights Academic Center, has died, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools announced today. He was 52.

Details of Aiken’s death were not immediately available, though CMS confirmed that he was not at the school when he died.

Aiken was a 1979 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University and joined CMS the following year. He worked in schools including Allenbrook, Thomasboro and Westerly Hills. In 1989 he became an assistant principal at Wilson Middle.

Aiken was named principal of Villa Heights in 1997. It is CMS’s only full magnet school for learning immersion (K-2) and talent development (gifted 3-5) students.

Superintendent Peter Gorman today called Aiken “a beloved staff member…a wonderful, loving, caring educator.”

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