The search for a new principal at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has unleashed a troubling wave of parochialism around the Island. In comments that flooded online forums this week, Vineyarders debated and frequently decried the fact that the three finalists named late last week for the top job at the high school all hail from the mainland. No Islander made the final cut; in fact only one Vineyard resident even applied.

It sounded at times like a takeoff on a made-for-television British drama — just replace upstairs, downstairs with on-Island, off-Island and you’ve got the script.

Suddenly Vineyard schools superintendent Matthew D’Andrea and his able assistant superintendent Richard Smith — both in their first year on the job — found themselves defending the search process, including before the district school committee on Monday night.

Why is so much dust getting kicked up now at such a late stage in the process? First, the community is clearly still reeling following the hasty departure of principal Gil Traverso last summer after less than a year on the job. The tipping point came last month when Dr. John Rizzo, the new Oak Bluffs School principal, resigned after only six months at his post.

The two resignations in quick succession were a legitimate cause for community concern. Presumably these professionals were fully vetted at the time of their hiring and at least verbally committed to staying several years. On one hand, their failure to live up to their commitments sends a bad message to students; on the other, it begs the question of why they might have been so eager to leave.

And while the high school principal search committee seems to have turned up several interesting and well qualified candidates, social media lit up last week after a Google search disclosed that one had been arrested for driving under the influence and another had run into criticism for canceling his school’s honors night.

Amid the swirl of public chatter about the two principal departures, the credentials of the new candidates, and the spurious debate over on-Island versus off-Island, Mr. D’Andrea has been oddly quiet, choosing to hand the role of public spokesman to his assistant superintendent. Articulate and well spoken, Mr. Smith has proven more than up to the task, but that’s beside the point. Mr. D’Andrea is the top school administrator, and though he did not choose Mr. Traverso, he did choose Mr. Rizzo and he will be choosing next principal for the high school. The community needs to hear from him.

Speculation has it that the two principals left because they could not adjust to life on the Island with its many quirks and cost of living in the stratosphere. The court of public opinion then weighs in with this absurd remedy: hire only from within! But let’s pause and rewind for a moment. While it is true that Island life is not for everyone, neither is life in New York city. Not everyone who moves to the Vineyard fails the test. Limiting searches to internal candidates — for the next high school principal or for that matter any school job — is hardly the way to prepare our students to enter the world. At this stage it’s well past time to retire that old chestnut, the Island factor.

Far more important to worry about is whether the next principal will be able to be effective in the job, especially given the institutional gridlock that appears to be a growing problem in the public schools. Perhaps this is the real Island factor, the one that throws up obstacles in the path of people who seek to put down professional roots here, sending them packing on the next ferry to Woods Hole.

Next week, the public will have the chance to meet the three finalists for the job of principal of the high school when they visit the Island: Sara Dingledy, principal of Westchester Square Academy in the Bronx, N.Y., David Fabrizio, principal of the Ipswich Middle School, and David Williams, former principal of the York Middle School in York, Me. The visits take place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Public questions will be allowed with the candidates from 4 to 5:15 p.m. each day in the high school library conference room.

Asking about candidates’ qualifications, expectations and, yes, commitment to stay if hired is fair game. Then once a new principal is chosen, it is up to the community to help them succeed.