Principal Selection Committee forms to choose the next Mr. Aponte

Sophia Manolis

More stories from Sophia Manolis


Sophia Manolis

On Tuesday, April 30, there was a meeting to decide on a committee of South students, staff, parents, and community members that will decide on the next Principal of South High School. The meeting was open to the public, and requisites for the selection committee was discussed. After the meeting, the site council had a closed meeting to decide who would actually be on the committee.

On Tuesday, April 30th, there was an important meeting to plan the new principal selection committee. The committee will be made up of South staff, parents, students, and community members, and they will interview prospective candidates for the new principal position. The meeting was open to the public, beginning at 6:30pm. Students and staff sat around at a long table, while parents and other staff members sat around the table in a circle of chairs.

South’s current principal Ray Aponte is leaving, so the role of the selection committee in choosing the next principal is very important. When asked about the general feedback the South community has expressed about the selection committee process, Public Relations Coordinator Lisa Ramirez said, “[Everyone] mostly wants to know that South is going to stay in the direction it’s going because they feel so good with Principal Aponte being here… We’re not looking for a fresh start [or] somebody who’s going to come in and do something new, we’re looking for someone who’s going to take the baton and carry it and continue on.”

The first topic discussed was the list of South community members already nominated for the committee. Several nominated students and teachers were present for the meeting, and various other people spoke out to affirm their nominations. Junior Jordan Dotson, who was present at the meeting, was hoping to be nominated. She found out about the opportunity from Ms. Walker and was interested partially because of her mom’s involvement with Site Council meetings. “My mom started going to the Site Council meetings and I decided to go along, and that’s how I became interested in getting involved.”

There was already a recommended quota for the number of staff, students, parents and community members on the committee, to fill a total of 12-14 slots.

However these quotas were then discussed at the meeting. Anita Newhouse, the parent of junior Willem Newhouse, suggested that the number of recommended students be lowered so the number of students and parents on the committee would be equal. Social studies teacher Rob Panning-Miller suggested that they add another non-staff community member on the committee. These suggestions were considered but nothing was decided on.

Other people, including Dotson, felt like student representation needed to be focused on more heavily. “I don’t think it’s that accessible, I feel like no one knows that much about it… there was an announcement for today, but I didn’t hear anything about it before then. I feel like it could be a lot more accessible, [especially for students],” she said.

Despite this concern, Ramirez is working hard to publicize the process and advertise upcoming meetings with the South community. “We’ve been very cognizant of the fact that we need to have parents and students and community members and teachers [involved],” she said.

Finally, there was a discussion about the racial demographics of the committee. “It was really important because we were discussing the idea of whether race should be part of a process, and the district says that’s not typically what happens… but we said no,” said Ramirez. It was ensured that race would be an important part of choosing the committee so that it can represent the demographics of South, which is a majority non-white school, instead of being whitewashed.

“A process should be both inclusive with lots of connection points for people who have different experiences and viewpoints, but it should also be very transparent so that people who aren’t involved in it can understand to some extent what’s going on outside of it,” Newhouse said. “At the end, both people who were and weren’t involved should feel happy and satisfied that the process was credible and accountable.”

After the meeting, the South Site Council had a closed meeting to decide who should be on the committee based on the nominations. This was controversial because Site Council’s meetings are normally open to the public. Some felt the process is not quite as inclusive as it is supposed to be.

Dotson said she felt like she would bring “hopefully a minority experience… I think the [Site] Council itself right now is not the most diverse.. I think bringing that different experience would be helpful.”

Despite the imperfections of the process, most people felt like it is going well overall.

Ramirez was particularly grateful for the parent involvement. “We’re just so lucky that we have so many committed parents… We should not worry about this process at all, or representation, because that’s what they’re all committed to.”

Newhouse also appreciated the inclusivity for parents. She felt like the role of parents is “to be a voice to their student… because of the role that families play in the school and family partnership. We don’t talk about the school-family partnership enough, but that’s one of the things that is a hallmark about South….. To meet [student’s] needs in the best and most equitable way for all students.”

Ultimately, everyone involved in this process really just wants what is best for South. “South is pretty special for a high school,” Dotson said. “We’re pretty diverse, we’re pretty open minded… so [I’m excited to] hopefully see how those ideals match up with our new staff.”