Wiemelt recommended as interim UHS principal; second search expected

Wiemelt recommended as interim UHS principal; second search expected

URBANA — After an extensive search and interview process, the Urbana school district has decided to hire internally for an interim high school principal and will start the search process again next fall.

The administration will recommend Joe Wiemelt, the district's current director of bilingual and multicultural programs, for the interim principal position, pending school board approval, said Gayle Jeffries, assistant superintendent for human resources.

The school board will vote on the appointment May 1.

Wiemelt declined to comment until after that meeting.

Laura Taylor, the principal at Urbana High Schoool, was hired in January as the Champaign school district’s new assistant superintendent for achievement and pupil services. She will take that job effective July.

To replace Taylor, the school district did a national search and came up with 33 applicants. Those were screened by a committee made up of staff members and Urbana Middle School Principal Scott Woods, which recommended four to be interviewed, Woods said.

The school surveyed staff members and parents before interviews, in order to gather their input, Woods said, as well as to allow staff members to volunteer to participate on an interview committee.

"We tried to make it as inclusive as possible and have everyone's input," Jeffries said.

So many people wanted to be involved in the interviews that the district formed two interview teams, said Woods, who co-chaired the process.

Each team included parents, students, teachers, administrators and other staff members. All four candidates interviewed with both teams.

"It was a pretty extensive process," Woods said, and was similar to the process he went through before being hired at UMS. He's in his second year there.

They recommended three to be interviewed by district administrators in the central office, Jeffries said.

They offered a job to one applicant, Jeffries said, but that person backed out.

"We decided the other two applicants weren't right for the position at this particular time," Jeffries said, so they decided to look for an interim internally and do another search this fall.

Wiemelt, if approved by the school board, will serve as interim principal for the 2012-13 school year, and the new, permanent principal will begin following that, she said.

Jeffries said Wiemelt has experience working with high school students, teachers and department heads and has evaluated teachers.

"(He) has the commitment and knowledge to help and be instrumental in moving the high school forward," Jeffries said.

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