High school principal interviews create gap in communication


Natalie O'Dell

Because school officials do not engage in prior review, the content of GCAA Student Media is determined by and reflects only the views of the student staff and not school officials or the school itself.

As Lisa Kaczmarczyk, high school principal, announced her departure from her current position at the end of the 2016-17 school year, the process of looking for a new principal has just begun. A brief letter was sent out through Infinite Campus March 29th asking parents if serving on one or more high school principal interview panels sparked their interest. The letter stated that two candidate interviews had been scheduled, and that the school could have “use a couple of parents this week,” Thursday, March 30th, and/or Friday, March 31st, at 2:30 pm. Just before the letter was sent out, a Parents’ Association meeting was held on March 28th that dealt with this topic.

“This is an important position for our school so we hope some of our parents can attend these interviews,” the letter reads. However, if the process was this important, why was this letter sent the day before the first round of interviews? Teachers, parents and students only had 24 hours to clear their schedules for these interviews, not to mention many teachers were not informed of this process.

In the process of hiring a new member of administration, communication between parents, students and teachers should be transparent, avoiding misinterpretation at all costs. This letter, explicit in what the school desired from parents in this process, failed to communicate in a timely manner. Although lack of communication has been an issue in the past, individual situations have been addressed. What takes away from this, though, is the vital information involving our school’s future being delayed, where no one has the proper amount of time to respond or give feedback.

Teachers, the backbone of how the school operates in cooperation with administration, had very little to no knowledge of the interview panel. When students approached teachers with this information they received from Infinite Campus, they were astonished. Teachers are not being informed of what is crucial to their job and the success of students. When choosing a new figure of authority, this greatly impacts all parties involved. Teachers need this information so that they can plan accordingly for students, whether it be logistics or academics. As communication suffers, so does the productivity and success of the school as a whole.

In May of 2013, Lynne Glickert, GCAA’s principal at the time, was suddenly fired without the input from anyone at GCAA, and a new principal was named. A group referred to as “Glickert’s Army” formed, which consisted of mostly parents and students that hoped to support her and her position at GCAA. She was eventually hired back and given the job of executive director but left shortly after due to budget-related and personal reasons.

Just last year, when the roles of two African-American staff members changed, a group of students arranged a sit-in protest in the lobby. The students argued that the changes would force one of the staff members to leave her job because her paycheck changed and that the school already misrepresented our mostly African-American school with a mostly Caucasian administration and staff. Although the reason for the change had less to do with race and more to do with budget, these reasons were not communicated to the students until the demonstration.

Given this history, and given the nature of this change in administration, it would not be surprising if those in control of the communication about these decisions have considered the potential response from students and parents. So, the question must be raised – did they intentionally create a lack of communication to avoid a similar response?

There are essentially two options here: that the last-minute message and lack of communication was purposeful or accidental. If it was accidental, then the resource office and board seem to be missing the point of all of the demonstrations, protests and petitions that surround the past few years – that we, the students of GCAA, want to be informed about the changes being made in our school, and we hope to be involved.

If it was purposeful, then they seem to not understand the importance of that message. Our education consists of not only the curriculum in our classes but also which teachers we interact with, the culture of our school, how we interact with those in authority and how we are involved in our school and community. The administration has power over all of those things, so as those being most directly affected by its changes we deserve to know what those changes are and to have a voice in them. If those changes are not communicated effectively to us, we have no way of reaching those goals.

There is still no word on when a new high school principal will officially be chosen. We hope, though, that this repeated lack of effective communication does not continue going forward, and that we are able to stay informed regarding these decisions that will no doubt affect our future.