Merton School Board declines to reconsider principal resignation

Becca Stein
Becca Stein

The process to replace Merton Primary School principal Becca Stein has begun.

The Merton School Board was slated to hold a closed-session meeting Feb. 6 to discuss potentially rescinding the resignation of an administrative employee, according to the agenda. The employee —Stein — plans to resign effective July 1. Her resignation has been a hot topic among district residents.

But instead of considering that item — the only item on the agenda — the board voted, 3-2, to remove it from consideration, according to board President Dean Dobbertin. Board members Lindsay Kent, Nicole Cotton and Troy Andersen voted to remove it, while he and board Vice President Andrew Lehman voted against removing the item.

Dobbertin said he brought the item to a special meeting after hearing from people at the board's Jan. 30 meeting who asked the board to reconsider its acceptance of Stein's resignation.

"I was trying to listen to what the people at the Jan. 30 meeting directed us to do that, to look at it again. I was disappointed that our board did not even want to discuss the issue that the families and staff members brought forward to us on Jan. 30," Dobbertin said in a Feb. 7 phone interview.

When reached by phone Feb. 7, Lehman declined to comment. Kent, Cotton and Andersen did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment.

In a Feb. 6 letter to parents, district Superintendent Ron Russ said the process to replace Stein "will continue through these next several weeks."

"The reason why we are posting the position now instead of waiting is to get out ahead of other school districts searching for their own principal replacement," he wrote. "By completing the search in February and March, this also allows our new principal to be part of the hiring process for teachers and staff. Due to the Primary School’s growth, we know we will be needing additional teaching staff. By starting the teacher hiring process in March and April, we feel we can gather the best talent pool possible."

Timeline for hiring a new principal

Russ' letter also laid out a proposed timeline, which shows the job has been posted online and will remain so until Feb. 19. A survey has been sent to residents, parents and staff about desired characteristics in the new principal. Surveys should be completed by 8 p.m. Feb. 12.

Once surveys are completed, the school board plans to hold a closed session Feb. 13 to determine the principal profile, salary, benefits, contract and other details.

Staff will also be surveyed for interest in participating in the first round of interviews.

On Feb. 20 and 21, the district's administrative team will screen candidates using the principal profile and notify candidates for interviews. A first round of interviews is scheduled for March 6 and 8.

Candidates chosen for the second and final round of interviews will be notified March 9, with final interviews scheduled for March 13. A final decision on the successful candidate could come as early as that night. The school board could approve a contract for the new principal on March 20, with an anticipated start date of July 1.

Stein has been the school's principal since July 2019.

Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Process to replace Merton Primary School principal begins