Rinse, Repeat: Belmont High’s Principal Search Back To Square 1 With Interim Head For Next Year

Photo: Belmont High School

They got the candidates they were looking for but like the belle of the ball, everyone wanted to dance with Jonathan Bourn to Belmont’s chagrin. 

While Wellington Elementary has found the right person to lead the school, the search for the educator to succeed Dr. Dan Richards at the helm of Belmont High School – and lead it possibly into its new building in 2022 – goes back to square one as Bourn, the current principal of Norwood High School since 2015 and sole candidate selected by the search committee turned out to be a popular candidate for many communities other than just Belmont. With a good reputation as a youngish educator who can connect with staff and students (but who also rubbed some school committee members the wrong way when he pushed and succeeded to move the school from the Bay State to the Tri-Valley athletic conference), Bourn was sought after to become high school principal in both Medway and Braintree, where he was the only candidate selected from 25 finalists.

Something was amiss when Mary Pederson, the district director of human resources, sent an email on Tuesday, April 10 an “update … on the status” of the high school principal’s search rather than an announcement on a new hire in the opening paragraph.  

Bourn, who resigned as principal of Norwood High School in mid-March, met with Belmont High students, staff, parents and administrators on April 2. But despite passing over a number of qualified candidates to only go forward with Bourn, Pederson said, “after a thorough review and thoughtful consideration of all information gathered through this rigorous process, the decision has been made not to move forward with Mr. Bourn as the next Principal of BHS.”

Coincidently, Braintree announced on Tuesday, April 10 that it would be reopening its search for a new principal as Bourn would not be coming to the South Shore town. Bourn is one of three candidates for the Medway position, which is close to his Walpole home. 

With the ability to hire a principal to manage a highly successful program before the new school year all but nil, Belmont District Superintendent John Phelan is starting a two-pronged approach to run the school. The first is redo a full-fledged candidate search beginning early in the coming school year in the fall of 2018.

But with the reality that Belmont High will not have a permanent leader on board until July 2019 at the earliest, Phelan will appoint by June 1 an interim principal for the 2018-2019 school year from the ranks of retired principals, an internal candidate, or other qualified educational leaders. While interim leaders are in the unenviable position of being a short-term fill in, one needs only look at Belmont’s last interim head, superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston, whose three-year tenure was celebrated as bringing stability and professionalism to the district. 

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