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Leadership issues remain at Lake Placid schools

January 4, 2013

LAKE PLACID - As the Lake Placid school district continues to search for permanent principals at the middle-high school, district Superintendent Randy Richards thinks the Board of Education should appoint a temporary dean of students.

Interim high school Principal Greg Camelo, who was appointed to the position over the summer, won't return next week when students return to class on Wednesday. Camelo and interim middle school Principal Rick Retrosi were reappointed to their interim positions earlier this month; Retrosi will stay on through the remainder of the school year.

"I want to thank (Camelo) for his service," Richards said. "I think he did a real nice job. The one big difference I can really see is the atmosphere at the high school. ... A big tip of the hat to him."

The district is now tasked with finding a replacement for Camelo as the board prepares to restart its search for a new principal. The board suspended its search in November after a finalist withdrew his name from the running.

Richards said he has asked officials at the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services and Champlain Valley Educational Services for a list of people who might be interested in the high school principal position. He said he has received phone calls from people who are interested, and he wants the board to review those who applied for the job in the fall to "see if there is somebody who fits the bill for us.

"You want to get good to great - the best person you can," Richards said. "This (Annual Professional Performance Review) process is my biggest concern right now. ... It's going to take a certain skill set for that and if they're not completely certified or have all the training, they've got to be in position to just get a little bit of that training so the board can in turn certify them to do the evaluations."

Richards said the goal is to have a new interim principal in place by the end of January. He said Retrosi will have his hands full completing non-tenured faculty evaluations.

"In the meantime, I think there'd be some merit in considering bringing in a dean of students - a teacher on special assignment, if you would - to pick up some of the day-to-day administrative things that they deal with," Richards said.

Richards stressed that before permanent principals are put in place, the district must select what leadership model it wants to use. In the past, the building has had a principal and assistant principal for grades 6 through 12, but some staff members say they like the current model, which features one principal for grades 6 to 8, and another for 9 through 12.

"That two-principal system seems to have gotten a lot of good feedback," Richards said. "People seem to like it; it seems to be effective. The district has got to look at it going forward, and the board should lock in on which model you want to use."

School board President Mary Dietrich said she is concerned about not having someone in the high school principal's office when students return from break.

School board member Patti Gallagher asked if board members would get an opportunity to speak with Retrosi and Camelo about the leadership model.

"I'd appreciate getting Mr. Camelo's input," Gallagher said.

Dietrich said the board will be able to get Camelo's input.

Richards said he hopes the board will discuss appointing a temporary dean at its first meeting in January.



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