A member of the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board challenged the superintendent this week on his process for selecting principals for two district schools, asserting that he should be giving teachers a greater role.
But Claudia Garrison’s views were not backed up by her fellow board members, who said they felt that teachers were adequately involved, particularly in the early stages.
Superintendent Paul Goren, who ultimately picks the final candidate to present to the board for ratification, provided the board with a memo describing the hiring process for principals at Oakton Elementary School and Nichols Middle School, which consists of six steps:
1. Communicating the process to all stakeholders in the district, including teachers, parents, and community members at large.
2. Developing the Leadership Profile of the desired qualities of the principal, following a meeting with parents and a meeting with teachers.
3. Screening of applicants by the central office staff.
4. Candidate interviews with the top eight candidates by the superintendent and his staff to narrow the field to the top four or five candidates.
5. An additional screening by a committee consisting of four teachers, four parents, and two administrators, narrowing the field further to the top three candidates.
6. Final interviews by the superintendent after reviewing all the data from the previous steps before making the final decision of the individual he presents to the board for ratification.
Garrison, a former teacher in the district, contended that teachers, or their union representative, should be more involved in the final steps, as they “can look at a pool of eight people and say ‘this would be a good person and this would not’.”
She added that, “for teachers, the person that has the most direct effect on their working life is the principal of their building.”
Board Vice President Richard Rykhus and administrators at this week’s meeting, contended that teachers were involved at each step of the process until the very end, when the superintendent makes the final call.
Most people, said Rykhus, have “zero input” in selecting their boss, and that he felt teacher input was adequately obtained.
“I want to be as inclusive as possible,” added Goren, “but I’m being held responsible for the principal’s performance.”
He said: “I’m the place where the buck stops.”
Goren assured the board that the views of the teaching staff would be very much considered as he makes the final hiring decision.