Search continues to find next South Principal


Erika Peterson

The Site Council meets on May 8 in the media center to continue the process of selecting South’s next principal. “The people in this room own the process,” said Leah Auckenthaler, a parent involved in the principal search.

On Thursday, May 8, the Site Council met to discuss the progress of the principal selection process. Teachers, parents, community members, and students were in attendance.

The meeting began with an update on several ongoing processes, including AP testing, an impact report on the new field, and the hiring process for next year’s teachers. “I’m happy to report that it has so far been a really competitive process,” noted administrator Mercedes Walker.

Following this initial deliberation, the status of the principal selection process was discussed.

“This might be the heated part of our meeting this evening,” said Arthur French, South teacher and Site Council chair, as they transitioned into discussion.

A primary concern for many members was whether or not the principal recommendation determined by the Interview Committee would be reviewed by the Site Council before being forwarded to the Superintendent. “If [the recommendation is not reviewed by Site Council], there’s going to be a lot of misunderstandings… the people in this room own the process,” said Leah Auckenthaler, one of the parents involved in the principal selection process.

Others believed that Site Council’s approval was an unnecessary step in selecting a new principal. “What would site council do? We’ve talked about… the importance of trusting not only the people but the process. It feels to a certain extent that Site Council is a rubber stamp in the process,” said Kyra Ostendorf, another parent involved in the process.

Legal issues were also brought up about whether or not the Site Council could review the principal recommendation. “The bylaws are legally binding and we just want to make sure that we follow the process,” emphasized Lisa Ramirez, the Public Relations coordinator for South. At previous meetings, legal concerns had been cited as a reason for the recommendation to go directly to the Superintendent.

Eventually, the discussion circled back to the beginning of the process, and why the Site Council made the choices they made. The Interview Committee was purposely created as a separate group from the Site Council, and many members of the Site Council also did not apply for the committee. “The idea wasn’t to abdicate responsibility, the idea was to create a process,” said Lisa Ramirez.

However, parent Scott Schluter pointed out the consequences of this idea if the Site Council is not consulted. “Why would [Site Council] want to do another committee if they know they’re gonna be held out of it?”

The meeting continued with an update on the Principal Profile, and ended with decisions about the next steps. The group agreed to continue discussion on this topic at a later time, and Lisa Ramirez agreed to contact the Legal department for further advice. The next meeting is scheduled to be held on May 21st from 6-7:30 pm.

As noted in the Principal Selection Update email, it has been decided that the recommendation of the Interview Committee will go to the Site Council for approval before being forwarded to the Superintendent.