NEW HAVEN – The East Allen County Schools board will allow the administration to move forward with replacing two principals, but it may not allow a director position to be filled until a new superintendent is hired.
During a special board meeting Tuesday, the board directed the administration to continue the hiring process to replace retiring Heritage Junior-Senior High School Principal Bob Rohrbacher. The administration will move forward under its own policy to fill the position with input from at least one board member, the school staff and parents.
Another open principal position, at Leo Elementary School, will be filled by Bill Diehl, a former principal at the school and current director of accountability and computer services, at Diehl's request. He will replace the school's current Principal Jill Brady, who is moving out of the area. Diehl has previously served as the school's principal.
Diehl was an instrumental part of the district's one-to-one initiative that gave all students in grades 6-12 an iPad they could take home. Students in grades K-5 also have iPads available for use in the classroom but do not take the devices home. Next year, sixth-grade students also leave their devices at school.
Board President Neil Reynolds said making personnel decisions was "not a path I wanted to go down," but the board made an exception in the absence of an interim superintendent.
Former Superintendent Karyle Green left the district March 1. The board negotiated with Green to leave her post before her contract ended in June 2014 after she announced early in the year that she would not seek an extension of her contract. Her departure included a compensation package of more than $200,000, but that will likely be reduced since she has been hired as a principal position in Florida.
The board opted not to replace Green with an interim superintendent, saying it had confidence in members of the administration to continue to do their jobs.
On another personnel matter, members of the administration requested the board's authorization to seek candidates for the position of executive director of special services position.
Members of the administration urged the board to post for the job because, by the time a new superintendent is in place sometime this summer, many of the good candidates would be unavailable or unwilling to take the job because of too little time before the start of the school year.
Board member Stephen Terry said he believed the position is too prominent a role in the district to fill without input from the future superintendent. But member Terry Jo Lightfoot said she worried that waiting might mean the district would go without filling the position for next year.
A motion to post the job was tabled to allow the board officers to discuss the job post further with top-level administrators. Approval to post the job would require a vote or consensus from the board, whose next meeting is May 7.
The board voted to put off action on posting the job opening until it meets further with top-level administrators. Its next meeting is May 7.
The board also released some of the criteria it will be looking for in a superintendent based on feedback from district employees and members of the community through meetings and an online survey.
Many of the top responses were character-based criteria such as trustworthiness, honesty, being "a healer" and having a sense of community.
A team from Indiana University is serving as a clearinghouse for the board and will secure and deliver applications. The board is scheduled to review applications May 14.
The board briefly discussed the interview process, with some in favor of making the names of finalists public and other members opposed because of the risk of driving away candidates who want to maintain confidentiality.
The board approved a resolution to include community members and staff in some way in the interview process. Details of the process are to be worked out by the board officers.