The Portland Parent Union will be attending a meeting at King School tonight to pressure the district to change the way principals are selected.
Union Director Sheila Warren told The Skanner News that committees across the district need to be more diverse. She said representation of people of color on the committees was inadequate and she felt district personnel had a history of ignoring recommendations from committee persons.
"It's up to the superintendent to decide who they want in that position anyway," Warren said. "The district hasn't done a good job of being inclusive of all parents."
The King School meeting will be taking place at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 19 at the school.
The current principal of King School, LaDrena Rhodes, announced last week that she is leaving her position at the end of the year and Union members want to make sure the selection process for the next principal is as inclusive of as many parents, community members and teachers as possible. Warren says she wants to slow the process down and make it more accessible to those people who have not been involved in school activities before.
For those wanting to be involved in the principal hiring process, visit http://www.king.pps.k12.or.us/ and click on the "Volunteer Self-Nomination" form link below.
Portland Public Schools Spokesman Matt Shelby said tonight's meeting is the first community meeting to determine what kind of principal people want at King School. After that, a committee is formed to interview potential candidates from outside the district. Shelby said the public process is muddled when an inside candidate applies for an open principal position.
Because of personnel confidentiality, the principal selection committee is not made aware when a current district principal applies to transfer. Shelby said the superintendent may choose to hire that candidate if they fit the community's standards, sidestepping the public process.
"We don't want to set expectations that it's going to be a big community vote," he said. "But it doesn't take place in a vacuum either."
It is unclear how many principals who were recommended by the committee were also hired by the superintendent. The Skanner is currently seeking that information from the district.
Last year's temporary selection of Deborah Peterson for Madison High School was an example of a superintendent selection that went horribly wrong. Shelby said the community felt the vetting process hadn't been thorough enough. Due to that backlash, Peterson stepped back from the appointment, extending the public selection process. Carla Randall was ultimately hired as principal.
"We worked last year to explain to folks and be more transparent in laying out the process in public," said Shelby.