Beginning next week, groups of District 96 school board members, staff, parents and students will interview seven candidates for the vacant principal’s position at Hauser Junior High.

According to Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson, the district received 39 applications for the job. A total of four interview teams will talk with the candidates, with the expectation that the board will announce the hire at its May 16 meeting.

Hauser has been without a full-time principal since January, when its former principal, Joel Benton, was placed on administrative leave and ultimately resigned under circumstances which were never publicly revealed.

Since that time, Hollywood School Principal Victoria DeVylder has served as Hauser’s interim principal, splitting her time between the junior high and the elementary school.

On March 24, DeVylder announced through a letter to Hollywood School parents that she was seeking the vacant principal post at Hauser.

“When I was asked to step in as interim principal at Hauser, I had no thought of taking on this position permanently,” wrote DeVylder. “But through this interim period, I have witnessed the successes and potential (her emphasis) of Hauser students.

“Throughout this process, I have faith that the teachers, parents and administrators making the selection truly will invite the best individual to lead Hauser into the future,” she continued. “If that person is me, I will be honored to serve. If not, it will continue to be my great joy to serve the students at Hollywood as their principal.”

DeVylder, who was out of town last week prior to press time, was unavailable for further comment.

Hauser posts assistant principal job

For the past two years, Daniel Johnson, band director at Hauser Junior High in Riverside, has also served as the school’s unofficial assistant principal. He handles just about everything an official assistant principal is responsible for?”creating the master schedule and school calendar and handling discipline.

All he lacks is the job title.

As a way to formalize Johnson’s role at Hauser Junior High, the District 96 school board last month voted to create and internally post an opening for a half-time assistant principal there. The expectation is that when the board announces its hire in May, Johnson will be tapped for the job.

However, Lamberson said that he will run a complete candidate search for the position, and that anybody with the requisite certification is encouraged to apply.

“It’s going to be a fair process,” Lamberson said. “Dan is interested in the job, but we’ll open it up to all qualified internal applicants.”

Johnson said that his current hybrid position took shape after the person who previously handled disciplinary issues during two periods of each school day wanted out of that role. Over time the school’s population jumped by 100 students, Johnson said, and the existing arrangement “became ineffective.”

“It kind of grew into this position,” he added.

Because Lamberson wants Hauser’s new principal to have input on hiring the assistant principal, that hire has been postponed until the principal search is completed.

The assistant principal will assume duties currently handled by Johnson. The main difference is that the assistant principal will also be able to help the principal with staff evaluations.

Johnson said that he would continue on as the school’s band director, a job he’s held for the past 12 years, if he’s named assistant principal.