The Dolores school board has appointed Superintendent Lis Richard as interim secondary principal to serve out the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
The appointment comes after former Principal Jen Hufman announced her resignation mid-September, attributing it to family considerations.
It was announced after an executive session discussion at the board’s regular meeting Thursday night.
While the Dolores School District Re-4A had received a few applications and conducted two interviews, the board decided to suspend the application process until January, saying her appointment would give them time to put together a “better process for selecting the committee and final candidates,” according to a district statement released Friday.
Alongside her new role, Richard will continue to serve as superintendent.
“I am the employee of the school board,” Richard told The Journal in an email. “It is my responsibility to do what they ask of me and to give my all to the tasks. I intend to do this in this additional role.”
The position was posted on Sept. 19 and closed on Oct. 4, Richard told the board Thursday night before the executive session. Board members had scheduled four interviews, but the number dropped to two earlier last week.
Fourteen people had been on the interview committee, she said, and staff had been invited to observe the process.
The district had opened the application window back up again, but closed it after Thursday night’s meeting, “in order for the distractions to be limited and the focus remain on leading the secondary school.”
The district statement cited Richard’s many years of principal experience and said she will be at the secondary school four days a week.
“She will continue to handle all responsibilities and see parents and community in the same fashion,” the statement said. “Mrs. Richard has managed staff as large as this district and enrollment larger. It is sure to be a challenge, but the board has confidence this was the right decision for our staff and students.”
The application process is expected to begin again in January. Richard said she and the board would determine a process for the selection based on community input and legal counsel, and they will share with parents how they can be involved when appropriate.
“I truly love students and look forward to more interaction with them,” she said. “Teachers are special people, and sharing my day directly with them will be a wonderful experience.”
The district lost both elementary and secondary principals in recent months. Elementary Principal Gary Livick announced his resignation in late February.
Richard addressed the recent changes, in particular the resignation of Hufman, in a letter to parents dated Sept. 26.
“We do not plan to put anyone in place as an interim principal,” she wrote. “We currently have staff that can fill in and cover needed areas until we hire a new principal. There have been many interested in the position and we begin interviews the week of October 7.”
Justin Schmitt, hired as the new secondary dean of students, was initially being considered for the principal position, but he later withdrew his application from consideration, Richard said at a recent community forum. Schmitt, 36, is one of 11 defendants in a San Diego case involving a $50 million charter school fraud.
He began working for the district on Aug. 12, replacing outgoing dean and athletic director John Marchino, who now works for the Mancos School District Re-6. There were nine candidates for the position, five of whom were interviewed, according to Doreen Jones, finance director with the district.