Following a turn of events last week that ended in the superintendent's request for the Edgartown School principal's resignation, the Edgartown school committee accepted the resignation of principal G. Paul Dulac on Wednesday morning and approved an accelerated timeline to find a permanent replacement.
"My hope is if all goes well, we can once again select a principal by Feb. 7," Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss told the committee and an audience of parents and teachers at the meeting held early Wednesday morning.
Mr. Dulac's resignation caps a recent period of transition and challenges at the school, which one teacher described as feeling like "operating in crisis mode for a long, long time." This year the school failed to meet its state-mandated annual yearly progress in math on the MCAS test. "We don't want someone who's going to sit in the office and push paper," Mr. Weiss told the gathering. "We want a leader."
The timeline states that Mr. Dulac's last day at the school will be no later than Jan. 19. The position will be advertised by Dec. 11 and Mr. Weiss will work with the staff to develop a transition plan. The superintendent did not discuss options for an interim principal, noting there are many possibilities but nothing firm yet.
Mr. Weiss said he plans to review the transition plan at the Dec. 13 school committee meeting, and the following day, he and the committee will meet with parents and the community. "We're trying to use the school committee as the process for public input," Mr. Weiss said. The regular meeting times will be changed from mid-day to evening to encourage the public to attend.
The timeline sets Jan. 10 as the date for final candidate selection by the school committee and superintendent. Interviews are planned for the week of Jan. 29, and the final choice is set for Feb. 7. Since the school conducted a principal search so recently - this is Mr. Dulac's first full year as principal - other finalists from that search have been contacted about the position.
"It's an aggressive timeline, but I think that's what we want," Edgartown school committee chairman David Rossi said.
Mr. Weiss asked Mr. Dulac for his resignation on Nov. 15, after he learned that the principal had not withdrawn his name from a pool of final candidates for the superintendent position in Marblehead.
Mr. Dulac has since been offered the job in Marblehead, and has accepted it.
This week Mr. Weiss reassured concerned parents and teachers that he would give extra support to the Edgartown School, including the need to focus attention on MCAS score improvements.
"My goal is to keep us marching forward in terms of those needs," Mr. Weiss said, noting he has another timeline to address educational issues. "The other schools are not going to be far behind you - and I don't mean that in a bad way," he added. With the bar being raised for every school, every year, it will be increasingly difficult for all schools to make their annual yearly progress, he said.
Mr. Dulac was named to the top post at the Edgartown School last February, after serving as interim principal following the retirement of longtime principal Edward Jerome. A school superintendent for most of his career, Mr. Dulac first came to the Vineyard in January 2005 to serve as interim superintendent. He did not apply for the Vineyard superintendent position, which later went to Mr. Weiss.
On Wednesday morning Mr. Weiss and school committee members all expressed confidence in the school staff to address the school's educational needs. "I think we can get through this if we stick together and the lines of communication are open," committee member Leslie Baynes told the teachers. "With all of these issues, I've never lost sleep. I go to bed at night and I sleep properly. Why? Because I have you."