Student committee to help with new principal selection

Graphic by Lizzy Arnold

Lizzy Arnold

Graphic by Lizzy Arnold

Lizzy Arnold , News Editor

Following the 2017-18 school year, current Principal Dustin Mortenson will no longer be an acting administrator at De Soto High School. With multiple applicants of new principals in consideration, it is important that the new selectee is a good fit for DHS.

There are multiple committees involved in the candidate selection. At the school, there is a student committee, parent committee and a committee of faculty members. To begin the process, there was an initial screening committee that consisted of district and building administrators.

Parent committee members were recommended to the USD 232 Director of Human Resources-Secondary Personnel Brian Schwanz by DHS. Staff members who indicated interest in the committee were selected for the committee by the HR department and Superintendent Frank Harwood. Students on the committee are members of the Principal’s Advisory Council or the USD 232 Student Advisory Committee, and there are two from every grade level.

The goal of assembling the student committee is to introduce DHS student representatives to each serious candidate, allow the representatives to get to know each applicant, then give their feedback on them to help the selection process.  

“The student committee will meet with each candidate and ask them questions, and the candidates will have an opportunity to ask the students questions about DHS,” Schwanz said in an e-mail interview. “The students then will identify the strengths of each candidate and provide that feedback to Mr. Harwood and the HR department.”

Sophomore committee member Colin Campbell is excited to be a part of the selection process, and sees it as an important opportunity to help choose the right applicant to fill such an important role.  

“I think it is very important for the students’ wants and needs to be heard, especially when it comes to getting a new principal because they are going to be in charge of everything and making all the policies,” Campbell said.

The process of narrowing down the applicants begins with the district and building administrator committees. They will eventually bring the number of candidates down before introducing them to the the student, parent and faculty committees.

“The process started with the reviewing of applications by Mr. Harwood, Mrs. Carrie Handy [the Director of HR – Elementary] and myself. Once we set criteria and determined who met that criteria, we held screening committee interviews,” Schwanz said. “The screening committee was made up of district level directors, a few building administrators from feeder schools and the superintendent. This committee narrowed down the candidates that will be brought to the building level committees.  The building level committees will then interview the finalist and provide feedback to Mr. Harwood and the HR department. Selection will be made from there.”

Campbell’s main concern regarding a principal is how well they will be able to keep up with the fast paced growth of the school.

To me, what’s really important is that a principal will be able to handle the school as it grows and as things start to get more hectic around here,” Campbell said. “I want to make sure their leadership and style is going to be able to give students attention they need and deserve.”

The student committee plans to meet on Feb. 8 in Student Services to meet with and ask questions to three of the applicants being considered for the position of DHS’ new principal.