Updated Dec. 10:Advertisements for a new high school principal appeared nationally this weekend, according to Linda Ochser, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Monday. The Board of Education announced Friday through its Agenda for the regular Monday meeting of the Board, that high school Principal William Colavito has submitted his resignation for purposes of retirement. (Text of Mr. Colavito’s resignation for retirement letter appears in this report.)
Dr. Ochser contacted WPCNR Monday afternoon to confirm that a search for Mr. Colavito’s successor had commenced with advertisements in this past Sunday New York Times and the most popular trade journal, Ed Week. She said colleges and professional organizations were also being made aware of the covetted opening. Dr. Ochser said she first learned Mr. Colavito was thinking of resigning Wednesday afternoon of last week.
WPCNR was unable to contact Mr. Colavito for direct comment on his retirement, but his letter reproduced in this ariticleindicates his departure is unrelated to the recently announced departure of Superintendent of Schools Saul Yanofsky.
Saturday, WPCNR obtained a letter signed by Mr. Colavito which was apparently mailed to parents of WPHS students Thursday. Parents of high school students we talked to Friday evening had not received the letter yet. Here is the text of that letter:
December 6, 2001
Dear Students and Parents,
I am writing to let you know about a personal decision that I have made. After much deliberation, I have decided to retire as principal of White Plains High School at the end of this school year.
While I am confident that this decision is the right one for me, it is one that I did not come to easily. In fact, I have very mixed emotions about it.
The years I have spent at White Plains High School have been among the most satisfying of my career. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with students, staff and parents in a community that values its schools the way White Plains does.
In thirty-five years in public education, I have not seen many schools with the commitment to excellence that exists at White Plains High School. However, as wonderful as the experience has been, it has become increasingly clear to me that I cannot continue in my position without compromising other areas of my life, most especially my family.
It had long been my intention to retire at the end of this school year, when the construction project was substantially completed. The School Board’s decision not to extend Dr. Yanofsky’s contract certainly made my decision more complicated.
I clearly do not want to add to the sense of uncertainty that many members of the community have been feeling. I also realize that there can be no perfect time to leave. So, after a good deal of soul searching, I have concluded that my original decision was the right one.
Over the next few weeks the district will be advertising for my replacement, and the multi-stage process of selection will begin in late January. Dr. Yanofsky will be informing you soon about the steps and dates for this selection process.
I look forward to working with you as the rest of the school year unfolds. Thank you for your continuing support and for your understanding regarding this decision.
William N. Colavito
School Board Spokesperson describes what is next.
Michelle Schoenfeld, Clerk of the District, told WPCNR Friday that Mr. Colavito’s decision did not come as a surprise, but she would not say that his intent to retire was known for “a long time.”
“He’s of an age where he is eligible to retire,” she reports.
Ms. Schoenfeld said the notice of Mr. Colavito’s announcement went home to parents of high school students Thursday, and the high school staff was told at the same time.
However, the phrase “went home” is unclear. WPCNR did not ascertain what this meant, at the time, assuming that “went home” meant that it went home with students as many notices do in the school district.
Now it appears that the letter was mailed, not sent home with students since parents of high school students we spoke with Friday evening had not received the letter in Friday mail.
Students not advised.
From what WPCNR has been able to find out from talking to high school students Friday afternoon, (three of them), there appears to have been no public in-person announcement of this to the student body, the persons most directly affected by Mr. Colavito’s anticipated departure. Mr. Colavito’s secretary did not know of any such announcement to students.
The Clerk of the District said that Dr. Linda Ochser, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, would begin searching for Mr. Colavito’s successor by placing advertisements. She said usually the district does not hire an independent search firm when seeking principals. Schoenfeld added that the usual procedure is to place advertisements, and that principals are usually not appointed “from within” or promoted to the position.
Saturday, Ms. Schoenfeld contacted WPCNR to clarify her remark to me on the principal succession issue. She writes, “I’m quite sure I never said that ‘principals are not usually appointed from within or promoted
to the position.’ There are times in the past when that has happened and there would be nothing to preclude it.”
Dr. Ochser was reported to be in a meeting with the Board of Education Friday afternoon when WPCNR attempted to contact her for more detail on the principal search timetable.
William Colavito is very popular with the students of White Plains High School, and is credited with completely changing the atmosphere at the 1,763-student facility from that which existed under his predecessor. Colavito was brought in by Dr. Yanofsky to stabilize the high school environment. He (Colavito) is credited with having a fine reputation and relationship with parents and students alike across all diverse constituencies.