Archive » March 27, 2008
SYVUHS PRINCIPAL SEARCH
By India Allen, Staff Writer
SYVUHS search for new principal still underway
The search for a new principal for Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s 2009 school year is still underway, as a hiring committee and the school’s incoming Superintendent Paul Turnbull narrowed their search to four candidates.
The four candidates have not been named, but members of the hiring committee will be visiting the top candidate’s school to conduct interviews on March 28.
Individuals from the school’s classified managers and staff, four teachers, administrators, a member of a valley organization, and a student and a parent comprise the 11-member committee..
Tori Babcock, Ken Fredrickson, Vicky Storey, and Danielle Lageman are representing the Teachers Association. Nicole Evansen and Mellissa Shaw are representing the classified managers and staff.
Dean Palius is representing People Helping People, and the schools Business Manager Ray Kirchmier and Turnbull are representing the district.Though the ultimate decision will be Turnbull’s, he said he refuses to make a decision that’s missing community input.
“Any decision I am going to make will be an informed decision,” he said. “I think it would be inappropriate for me to come in and interview candidates…when I don’t fully understand the history and the culture of the school.”
Kirchmier said that having a committee choose a principal is unusual and that the standard practice only involves the superintendent.
Part of the reason a committee has been implemented is because of the sensitivity of the issue, but mainly this is Turnbull’s style, Kirchmier said.
By the March 17 deadline, the district had received 35 applications for the principal position, including one from Norm Clevenger, who publicly announced he would be applying for the position at the March 16 meeting of the recently-formed Reformation of Santa Ynez High committee.
The selection committee began its first round of interviews March 21.
If all goes well at the March 28 top candidate’s district interview, SYVUHS could have its 2009 principal chosen as early as April 1.
In the meantime, Turnbull continues to refute claims that as a condition of him governing the two-school district, he arranged to oust Norm Clevenger and select his own principal, who was rumored to be Mark Swanitz of Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta.
“There is no deal and there are no deals, because I don’t deal,” he said.
“If somebody’s going to be selected to lead a school like Santa Ynez High, they’re going to do it on their own merits and they’re going to do it in front of a committee that represents the school.
“I want to make sure it’s clear that this is the most open and fair process we could put together,” he said.
“The reason for doing this is based on how well the students are going to be served by the next principal, not how well I am going to work with the candidate.”
Swanitz would not confirm if he was vying for the open principal position.
“I think it’s inappropriate to speak on their hiring practices.
“I’d really rather wait to let their process run its course,” he said in a phone interview.
Coleen Hefley, who made the claims of a back-room deal, is a representative of Reformation of Santa Ynez High. She said she was suspicious of the way in which the district timed the discharge of axed principal Norm Clevenger, the hiring of Turnbull, and the school board’s refusal to renew Clevenger’s contract for the 2009 school year.
Hefley said that if her suspicions proved to be true it would explain the timing of Clevenger’s seemingly random placement on paid administrative, as well as the events that followed.
“I don’t think that [retiring Superintendent Dr. Fred] Van Leuven was anticipating Norm not retiring,” Hefley said, in a phone interview.
At the first Reformation committee meeting March 16, Clevenger said Van Leuven gave him the choice to “just retire” or be placed on paid administrative leave.
Clevenger was suspended from his duties as principal on Feb. 14 by Van Leuven, a decision that the board supported at its March 11 meeting.
The board also refused to renew Clevenger’s contract at its March 11 meeting, after holding a closed session that lasted about two hours.