The Denver school district is starting over again as it looks for a new principal for the high-profile Manual High School after its initial search did not end in a hire.

Of the three candidates in the running for the principal job, one was not named a finalist and another took a position in a different school district instead, according to a letter Denver Public Schools sent to Manual families, staff, and community members Friday.

The district offered the Manual job to the third candidate, Jason Maclin, an assistant principal at Denver’s East High School. But “after careful consideration and discussion with his family, he decided not to pursue this opportunity at this time,” the letter says.

Manual is a storied high school in northeast Denver with a host of prominent alumni that has struggled academically in recent years. The last principal, Nick Dawkins, resigned in March after learning the district received complaints about a hostile work environment. District officials later concluded Dawkins violated the district’s policy against harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, according to a document obtained by Chalkbeat.

The search committee leading the effort to find a new leader for Manual is recommending the district name an interim principal for the rest of the calendar year “so that we can take the remainder of 2018 to embark on a national search for the right candidate,” the letter says.

Renard Simmons, the principal at a nearby school called the Denver Center for 21st Century Learning, has been filling in at Manual since Dawkins left.

The district announced on May 18 that Lynn Heintzman had been named the next interim principal. Heintzman will start at Manual in July. She is a retired Denver Public Schools principal who is serving as an interim principal at Denver’s Lake Middle School this school year.

Read the full letter below.

May 11, 2018
Dear Manual High School Students, Families, Staff and Community,

We are writing this letter to you to give you an update on the principal selection process for Manual High School. As you are aware, the Manual School Principal Search Advisory Committee (SPSAC) has been diligently working to find a new leader for our school. After an inclusive, thoughtful and thorough process, the SPSAC supported two candidate finalists for the principal position.

After reviewing feedback from the process, including conducting extensive reference checks, DPS offered the role to Mr. Jason Maclin. Mr. Maclin enjoyed engaging in the process with the amazing Manual High School community. After careful consideration and discussion with his family, he decided not to pursue this opportunity at this time but looks forward to continuing to lead and foster a culture of excellence for all students and families he serves throughout his leadership journey. The second candidate finalist informed us that she has accepted a role in another district.

The SPSAC considers selecting a talented leader an essential component of building on the great work that is taking place at Manual High School. To that end, the SPSAC has provided feedback on and is recommending that an interim principal be named so that we can take the remainder of 2018 to embark on a national search for the right candidate. We are confident that, by taking time to vet outstanding local, regional and national candidates in the fall, we will be able to find our next permanent leader who can best meet the needs of the school.

In the meantime, the Council and the SPSAC is confident that our current leadership team can lead us through the end of the school year and continue to lead us into the coming school year.

We look forward to having an update at the end of next week. In the meantime, our focus will be to continue to assist our students and educators as we work to ensure that every student in every classroom at Manual can concentrate on getting the best education possible.

Lastly, we would like to thank the Manual Council and the Manual School Principal Search Advisory Committee for all their hard work and dedication to the search process. We all remain committed to securing the best leader for our students, families, staff and community.

Sincerely,

Serina Montoya
Manual Council Co-chair

Scott Esserman
Manual Council Co-chair

Nicole T. Veltzé
Assistant Superintendent, Division of Secondary Education

This story was updated to reflect the naming of the next interim principal.