A panel, comprised of three Herndon High School staff members, three community members elected by the Parent/Teacher Association (PTA) and one Herndon High School student elected by the student government association, will meet Jan. 4 to begin the interview process of a new principal for the school.
"We've been meeting the timeline we have established," said Denny Dearden, Cluster One director for the Fairfax County Public Schools System. "We're pleased so far with the process and we hope to be able to name a principal by mid-January."
On Nov. 29, HHS principal Janice Leslie announced to staff and students that she would be leaving at the December break to become the director of Secondary Education for Fairfax County Public Schools.
Since then Dearden and Jeff Arwood, FCPS human resource person in charge of principal selection, have met with students, staff, parents and community members to gather criteria for the hiring of Leslie's successor.
"We have received tons of feedback," said Dearden. "We have a lot of real good input from students and the staff."
Although he did not name specific criteria, Dearden did offer themes from public comment.
Those included: a person who will be instrumental in leading the school; further student achievement through curriculum and technology; good community relations skills; strong communication with the PTA — having the ability to stay calm while sharing information with parents by being honest; support all programs from disabled children to after-school extra-curricular activities; visible accessibility.
Dearden said he planned to contact panel members Dec. 20 regarding interviews and on Dec. 21 a letter would be sent to selected applicants.
From there he said the panel would hold interviews Jan. 4 and forward one to three candidates on for him to meet. He would then forward on one to two applicants for FCPS superintendent Jack Dale to interview and hopefully a principal would be selected from there.
In the meantime, Dearden said because there will hopefully only be a one to two week overlap with no principal, HHS will be run by an assistant principal until a new one is named.
"They will do what staff would normally do when a principal is on vacation," he said. "If it goes longer we'll look into having an interim principal and there are several options available — we'll talk to Janice and determine what is the best way to handle it."