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Group involved in South High School principal search concerned over hiring process

The South High School Site Council sent an e-mail to Minneapolis Public Schools administrators and board members outlining several concerns.

MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis' South High is searching for a new principal and a group involved in the search is frustrated with the process so far. 

That group, the South High School Site Council, is made up of administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members like Cheryl Persigehl.

"I'm a parent of recent alumni at South," said Persigehl, whose daughters Chloe and Justine graduated in 2019 and 2021 respectively. "I've actually been involved at South for seven years."

Persigehl says Minneapolis Public Schools charged the council with leading the search for a new principal. The former principal, Brett Stringer, resigned last fall after admitting he wasn't properly licensed.

"We are looking for someone who is the right fit," Persigehl said. "It's really important because of all that South High has been through in these last few years."

Yet the council has several concerns over how the hiring process has been going. Thursday, members sent an e-mail to district administrators and board members outlining their concerns.

"We've set up several sub-committees," Persigehl said. "We've put in lots of hours. We did a full community survey and got feedback that we then used to form a 24-page profile of what we're looking for in leadership. We've spent time writing interview questions. We have an interview team."

Persigehl says, within the last few weeks, the district downsized the council's 16-person interview team.

"We've now been told that we can only have 12 people on the interview team, which might not sound like a big difference but this is a very large high school with many stakeholders and many programs. We want to make sure all of the voices are at the table. We also found out that in fact even though we were told we could create the interview questions, we're only being allowed to ask two or three questions … for the whole interview team."

With hopes the district will find a candidate and extend an offer by the end of June, the council wants more transparency and control.

"We don't have any access to information about the candidates until we get to the interview process … a half hour before the interviews," Persigehl said. "We're asking the Minneapolis Public School District to honor their commitment that this be a South High-led selection process, and to respect the importance of our students, staff, and families' full and informed participation in choosing the best-fit principal for South."

A district spokesperson sent the following statement in response to the concerns:

"We are working through a standard process to identify the next great leader for South."

The spokesperson says more information on the search process will be available next week.

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