APP: Middletown high school principal search down to two finalists

it’s nice to know that a replacement for Middletown South’s former Principle Dr. Anthony Shallop, is eminent but it would have been nicer if interim superintendent Pat Houston notified the Middletown Board of Education before announcing at Wednesday night’s meeting that he had already conducted four interviews and has broken it down to two candidates to replace Dr. Shallop.

According to Kevin Penton of the Asbury Park Press, some on the BOE were taken by surprise from the news. Board Vice President Christopher Aveta told Houston that members of the public expect board members to know what is going on in the district and that some board members (Aveta presumably) unaware that the interview process had even begun stating, “The board is trying to foster an environment of greater transparency”.

Houston then seemed to take offense to Aveta’s statement and according to the article posted below told board members that he was doing the job that should be expected of him, and believes he is not under any obligation to notify the board before he moves forward on conducting administrative matters.

That is a pretty bold statement coming from someone who as a former Principle of Thompson School, left the district in a lurch before retiring last year when he spent several months on personal leave.

Aveta had every right to question the interim superintendent about this, after all who is really in charge of the district at the moment, an interim superintendent who doesn’t have much of a chance of sticking around much longer or BOE members who were elected to oversee what happens in the school system? This seems like just another example of dysfunction to me.

MIDDLETOWN — District officials have wasted no time in searching for a replacement for a principal who was demoted last month, conducting interviews with four candidates in recent days.

The progress of the search for a new principal of Middletown High School South, a process already down to two finalists, caught members of the Middletown Board of Education off guard during their meeting on Wednesday.

Board Vice President Christopher Aveta told interim Superintendent Pat Houston that members of the public expect board members to know what is going on in the district. Some board members said they were unaware that the interview process had even begun.

“The board is trying to foster an environment of greater transparency,” Aveta told the superintendent.

Houston is simply doing the job that should be expected of him, said the superintendent, who believes he is not under any obligation to notify the board before he moves forward on conducting administrative matters.

“I don’t want anyone here to think I’m trying to deceive,” said Houston, a longtime administrator in the district who was brought back from retirement after 37 years of service. “Let me be frank: I don’t hire losers. I never have.”

Houston returned to the district last month, taking over the interim superintendent position from Thomas Pagano, who resigned for health reasons. Both men have served in the position as the district looks for a permanent replacement for Karen Bilbao, who left in January.

Only a couple of weeks after being at the helm, Houston recommended that Anthony Shallop be fired from his nontenured job as principal and reinstated in his tenured position as a science teacher. For personnel reasons, the district has not disclosed disclosed the reason for the demotion.

The demotion drew dozens of outraged parents, students and district employees to the board’s previous meeting.

Aside from Houston, six other administrators and teachers sit on the committee that will recommend to the Board of Education who should be Shallop’s replacement, the superintendent said. Houston hopes to have a recommendation in place by the board’s Aug. 24 meeting, he said.

No parents were included on the committee because members of the school’s Parent Faculty Association resigned last month in response to Shallop’s demotion, Houston said. Several PFA members told the board on Wednesday that their resignations are not effective until October.

Before a decision is reached, district officials agreed they will meet with a group of students who wish to discuss the position.

“We hope you recognize what we’re looking for in a principal and take that into consideration,” student Shubhro Bose told the board.

Responding on Wednesday to continued questions from parents on what happened with Shallop, Board President Joan Minnuies said she based her decision in part on comments that the former principal made to the board.

“This board was given the opportunity to go face to face with the issue,” Minnuies said. “In no way was this personal or political.”

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Filed under Asbury Park Press, Dr. Anthony Shallop, Middletown Board of Education, Middletown South High School, Pat Houston

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