July 2, 2022

Region 4 to Hire New Valley Regional High School Principal by Mid-April

REGION 4— Superintendent of Schools Ruth Levy has announced a process that is expected to lead to the hiring of a new principal for Valley Regional High School by mid-April.

Levy said Monday the process would have a “different structure” than many previous principal search efforts in the district, with a “much more extensive interview process,” that will conclude with a presentation of two finalists to a public meeting on April 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Residents of the district towns of Chester, Deep River, and Essex would have an opportunity to ask questions of the finalists at the meeting.

Levy said “feedback forms” and input received at the meeting would lead to the recommendation of a single candidate for an interview with the Region 4 Board of Education at an April 12 meeting. She said a hiring decision would be made at the April 12 meeting or soon afterwards. The new principal is expected to be on the job by July.

The search effort, which is being aided by a facilitator from the Project Learn regional education consortium, comes in the wake of a controversy in the district over the abrupt departure of Eric Rice from the principal job last fall. Rice, a Chester resident, who was hired last summer, resigned in October after only weeks on the job amid reports that he had been given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum from Levy.

The situation involving Rice, which has never been fully explained by Levy or school board members, led to a support rally for Rice by some residents and students in September and questions from residents at several heavily-attended board meetings during the fall. Kristina Martineau, who had served as assistant principal for about three years, has been serving as acting principal at the high school since mid-October.

Levy said the position was advertised over the past month with the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Hartford Courant, and an in-state education website called CT. REAP. She said more than a dozen applications were received by the March 18 deadline. She said applicants would be “telephone screened,” by a group comprised of herself, the Project Learn consultant, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser, and Board of Education Chairwoman Linda Hall. Neviaser had preceded Rice as principal, holding the job from 2008-2010.

Levy said an undetermined number of candidates would then proceed to a series of interviews with groups of district residents, parents, students, and teachers and other district staff, other administrators, and school board members. She said about 30 people would be involved in this interview process that would lead to the recommendation of two finalists for the April 5 public meeting.