First reported 7/28/2009, 8:30 a.m.

For two weeks, rumors swirled around the Hollywood section of Brookfield that Vicki DeVylder, principal of Hollywood School, was out. But it wasn’t until Monday that those rumors were confirmed by Riverside School District 96 officials, who said they were accepting DeVylder’s request for a sabbatical during the 2009-10 school year.

In a letter Monday to the district’s superintendent and board of education, DeVylder indicated she would be pursuing a career path that focuses on professional development for teachers.

“Professional development has always been my passion and has been the primary focus of my work in District 96 as both a building principal and district administrator,” wrote DeVylder, who has been principal at Hollywood School for nine years.

“I am excited at the prospect of expanding my own horizons and the good work and possibilities that will benefit Riverside District 96.”

DeVylder will not be returning as principal of Hollywood School following her sabbatical. There is no indication in her letter to district officials that she intends to return to the district at all. The letter reads more like a letter of resignation, though Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson said the letter was not a resignation.

“She’s just trying to figure out what happens as she moves on with the professional development aspect of what she wants to do,” Lamberson said.

Asked if DeVylder would be welcome back in some sort of district-level administrative capacity, Lamberson said she would be.

“I’d love for her to do that at a district level,” he said.

Also on Monday, Lamberson sent a letter to Hollywood School families, notifying them of DeVylder’s sabbatical and of the appointment of former Central School kindergarten teacher Mindy Keller as the interim principal at Hollywood for the 2009-10 school year.

Later this winter, the district will begin a search for a permanent principal at the school.

In addition to teaching, Keller has served in a quasi-administrative role as the creator of curriculum guides; the coordinator of the KITE program, which is the district’s new kindergarten enrichment effort; leading the district-wide investigation into full-day kindergarten and working with special education issues.

“Ms. Keller’s collaborative leadership style is a great match for Hollywood,” Lamberson wrote in his letter to parents. “She will continue building on Hollywood’s strong sense of community by engaging students, parents, staff and the community.”

It was “collaborative leadership” that some Hollywood parents complained was lacking in recent years under DeVylder. In 2008-09, in particular, a pair of issues became hot buttons at the school, one involving DeVylder’s response to complaints that a particularly difficult kindergarten class needed additional support and another involving the school’s handling of a lice outbreak in second-grade.

Lamberson acknowledged those difficulties at Hollywood last year, but said they did not play a role in DeVylder’s decision to leave the school. In an earlier interview, Lamberson said he especially values DeVylder as an administrator and as a mentor to teachers.

“The contributions she makes in terms of professional development, administrative leadership and as a principal are superb,” Lamberson said. “I value her as an administrative team member.”