New principal comes in as school lets out

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While the hot, humid days of July and August might seem like downtime at area schools, Alexandria City Public Schools is bringing in an interim principal for T.C. Williams High School specifically for the summer months.

William Clendaniel will take the reins at T.C. Williams for the summer beginning July 3, ACPS representatives announced this week.

Its not like lights go off after graduation, said Amy Carlini, executive director of information and outreach for the school system.

Clendaniel, who is retiring from his position as principal at Langley High School in McLean, has agreed to be interim principal at T.C. Williams until a new principal arrives to replace Mel Riddle, who is leaving the school after two years at the helm to take a position with the National Association of Secondary Principals.

Interim Assistant Superintendent Larry Byers, who is leading the search for a new principal, praised Clendaniel as an experienced administrator. Clendaniel spent 12 years at Langley, eight of those as principal. Byers said he worked as an assistant principal at West Potomac prior to that.

Byers said that while an assistant principal is responsible for summer school, Clendaniels will oversee the usual summer duties to get the school ready for the new academic year, ranging from checking on staffing and the master schedule to monitoring building maintenance to working with the athletic director.

He will approach this job as if the principal will not be selected by opening day, Byers said.

While ACPS has the search process outlined, things cannot be counted on to go perfectly, which is why an interim principal was appointed, Byers said. I could maybe have done without somebody for a month… but you never know how the process is going to go.

ACPS hopes to have the new principal begin work in August, according to the letter sent to T.C. Williams parents updating them on the search process. The school system received 33 applicants for the position, Byers said. He said they plan to narrow it down by half, cutting out applicants without enough experience by the week of July 7, when the remaining candidates will be interviewed.

Dr. Morton Sherman, the newly selected superintendent of schools, does not begin work at ACPS until August 15 but will be part of the hiring process, making a recommendation to the School Board on July 24, according to the school systems timeline.

The school system is looking for someone with experience preferably as a high school principal of a school with a diverse population with high academic standards and expectation, Byers said. He added the search panel is taking into account feedback of parents and faculty.

Byers, himself filling an interim position as head of Human Resources at ACPS, said that he will remain on board until Sherman arrives and is able to select a replacement.

The school system just finished a tumultuous year that saw a number of high-level departures, including School Board Chairman Claire Eberwein, Athletic Director Kerry Donley and T.C. Williams basketball coach Ivan Thomas.

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