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Lake Placid prepares for principal search

July 25, 2012


LAKE PLACID - As the Lake Placid school board gets its ducks in a row to search for a new middle-high school principal, it has agreed to offer Greg Camelo the position on an interim basis.

The Board of Education hosted a work session Tuesday evening to review the search process for a new principal. The position has already been posted on a number of websites, and district Superintendent Randy Richards said interested candidates have begun contacting the district.

The middle-high school principal position opened up in April after Katherine Mulderig quit abruptly, reportedly after she accepted a settlement and agreed to part ways with the district. She had been embroiled in a controversy with Richards over a complaint she filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year, accusing him of gender discrimination, retaliation and creating a hostile work environment. The EEOC validated those claims earlier this year.

Assistant Principal Dan Mayberry and Richards stepped in to fulfill the principal's duties for the remainder of the school year. Shortly after graduation, Mayberry accepted a job as principal of Keene Central School.

The school board voted Tuesday night to "regretfully accept" Mayberry's resignation, effective Aug. 3.

Meanwhile, Richards presented the board with a detailed process for hiring a new principal. It's the same process the district used to search for a new elementary school principal last year.

"I thought that was successful," Richards said of the search that resulted in the hiring of Javier Perez.

The timeline, as presented, goes as follows:

Position advertised in a local contract, print media and state websites through Sept. 1

Paper screening and review of applications, Sept. 10

Review team evaluates applications, Sept. 24

Review team conducts first round interviews, Oct. 8

Second round of interviews with stakeholders, Oct. 22

Recommendation sent to school board for appointment, Nov. 6

Candidate starts new job, Jan. 1.

There was little debate about the timeline itself, but there was some tension when newly-elected board President Mary Dietrich said the board wants a committee to help screen applications. Richards said the initial screening of applications should be done by himself and District Clerk Karen Angelopoulos, but Dietrich said at least two members of the board should be involved from the "very beginning" because it provides an "assurance to the public."

"There's a sense of distrust being portrayed here," Richards said.

"The board is insisting on it," Dietrich responded.

Richards then asked if he should continue with the steps in the search timeline or "if this is a foregone conclusion," but board members encouraged him to continue explaining the process.

One of the big questions was whether the board should bring in an outside firm to assist with the search. Richards noted that would be an extra cost to the district.

New school board member John Hopkinson said the board should "at least identify a firm it wants to fall back on." He said it wouldn't necessarily mean the district would use the firm.

"But the board will know who they might use," Hopkinson said. "The board should explore fee structures with these search firms for now."

Dietrich suggested the board get in touch with Stephen Shafer of the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Richards agreed, noting that Shafer would have a "base idea on costs."

The search process will involve faculty and staff, parents, student representatives, management and management confidential employees, and the school board. New board member Patti Gallagher said word needs to be put out to the public so people interested in participating in the search can get involved.

"People who want to participate need to be aware that it is a very time-consuming process," Board member Janet Smith added.

Richards and the board agreed that Mayberry should be involved in the process to some degree. The board will conduct an exit interview with him in the coming weeks.

Board member Phil Baumbach asked about the timeline for the assistant principal search. Richards said that will start after a new principal is in place.

"I think it's important to have that person on board so they can have a hand in deciding who their right hand is going to be," Richards said.

Camelo has worked as principal at BOCES and St. Agnes School. He's been retired for about a year.

"I think we're very happy," Dietrich said. "We feel like we have somebody that can bring stability. When we do get a long-term principal, he or she will be able to build on that foundation."

If Camelo accepts the position, he would be on the job until Jan. 1, 2013.

Dietrich asked if the board should appoint the interim principal for a full year to allow more time to develop a stronger pool of candidates. She said some people might be unwilling to leave their current jobs halfway through the school year.

But Smith said many people who end up being appointed to interim jobs are already retired and "may not want to stay for a year."

The search for a new principal will be discussed again when the board meets on Aug. 7. The board also expects to discuss the appointment of a temporary assistant principal or dean of students at that meeting.



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