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West Hartford Schools Prepare to Hire Principals at Duffy and Hall

Domino effect of administrator changes will result in additional hiring in spring.

The hiring process is about to begin for the principal positions at both Hall High School and Duffy Elementary School, but that is just the beginning of a flurry of administrator hiring which will be taking place in 2013.

"We are in the process of developing a leadership profile [for Hall and Duffy]," said Executive Director of Employee Services Rick Ledwith. A survey will shortly be sent out to all parents at Hall and Duffy, requesting input on "leadership qualities, characteristics, and traits" that they seek in a principal.

That profile will be used throughout the hiring process, which will commence with initial screenings, followed by interviews and site visits.

"The process is the same for both," Ledwith said, although the leadership profile may end up being different for each school. Both positions will be posted in early January. Recruiting will continue throughout the month, and interviews will be set up for February, he said.

Site visits with finalists, to determine how those individuals currently interact with colleagues, students, and teachers, will follow, Ledwith said.

Recruiting will be held locally, regionally, and nationally for both positions, said Ledwith. He anticipates 35 to 50 candidates will apply for the Duffy job and 25 to 40 for the Hall job. The majority will likely be from Connecticut, but Ledwith said that the district typically gets interested candidates from all over the country.

Ledwith said that he expects , to be very interested in the permanent position.

The interviewing committee at both schools will include teachers, parents, and an administrator from another building. At Duffy that will be another elementary school principal, and Hall's interviewing committee will include Conard Principal Dr. Peter Cummings. A Hall student will also be on the committee. PTOs at both schools will coordinate the parent volunteers.

"We hope to have both positions announced by early to mid March," Ledwith said. Both the Hall and Duffy principal contracts begin on July 1, but there will be a transitional process in the spring after the announcements are made which will include time spent getting oriented to the school communities.

The vacancy in Hall's top position was created when Dr. Donald Slater resigned in September to take a job as Chief Operating Officer for Hartford's schools.

Current Duffy Principal Kathleen Tracy announced in late July that she would resign as principal at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. A group of current and former parents at Duffy presented the Board of Education with a petition expressing a vote of no confidence in her leadership earlier in the summer.

Former Conard Principal Chuck Landroche has been working alongside Tracy at Duffy since the fall, and Ledwith said of the arrangement, "From our perspective, things are going very well."

Tracy intends to remain with the West Hartford Public Schools following her departure from Duffy, but Ledwith said the scope of that position has not yet been finalized.

The resignation of administrators has created a domino effect of changes throughout West Hartford Public Schools, and interim positions at Whiting Lane (principal), King Philip (assistant principal), Hall (assistant principal), as well as for the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, will also be filled in 2013 following the same process.

Despite all of the changes, Ledwith said everything has continued to run well throughout the district. "We are happy with everyone in the interim positions, and things are going very well. We have a great team, with lots of teachers aspiring to be teacher-leaders," he said.

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