WESTBROOK — The right candidate for the principal’s job at Westbrook High School did not emerge from the first round of interviews, and the search committee is trying to figure out the next step in order to have a principal in place by July 1.

“We had good candidates, but not the right candidates,” Superintendent Peter Lancia said. “The (search) committee didn’t feel they were the right match in terms of what they could bring to the high school and the needs the high school has.”

School Committee Chairman Suzanne Joyce agreed.

“That school has gone through such transition over the last 10 years, so we want to make sure we are doing our due diligence to get the right person,” said Joyce, a member of the search committee, which is made up of parents, students, education officials and other community members.

The position became vacant on March 22 when Kelli Deveaux left to work for the Maine Department of Education

Lancia said 12 candidates applied to replace Deveaux, most from around the area. There were no internal applicants.

“It is disappointing when a search fails, but it is not the end of the world,” said Lancia, also a member of the search committee.

Lancia said the committee decided the best option was to stop the search, at least at this point.

“The job is too important to just settle on anybody,” Lancia said. “We want to make sure we are hiring wisely.”

He could not say what the next steps for the search committee will be.

Joyce said last week that she expects the search will be reopened soon.

In the meantime, Lancia said the administrative team of assistant principals Jennifer Brooks, Wendy Harvey and interim assistant principal Jeff Guerette has “really risen to the occasion.”

Lancia had hoped to announce a finalist by the end of April and have School Committee approval on May 8. Despite the setback, Joyce said the district is “in good shape” to find a permanent principal by July.

“We started early, so we still have some time,” she said.

Joyce said that in talking with her peers in other communities, other school districts have had a hard time filling principal roles as well.

“It is probably one of the hardest jobs in the district. We just want to make sure it is the right fit,” she said.

Aside from Westbrook, schools in Gorham, Portland, Winthrop, Richmond, Brunswick, Auburn, Carmel and Belfast are searching for principals.

Michael Kelley can be contacted at 780-9106 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mkelleynews

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