Tarkan Ceng, who took the reins of Lenape Elementary School in September 2017, is leaving that position. Board of education members accepted his resignation — effective March 31 — at their February 27 meeting. Alan Baker will serve as interim principal at a rate of $550 a day.
According to school board president Michael O’Donnell, Baker was appointed as of March 8 to allow him to participate in a one-day professional development workshop, but his role as an interim principal does not commence until March 25. Baker’s appointment carries through the end of the school year.
Parents were not notified of the switch prior to Wednesday’s meeting, and reactions over social media make it clear they would like some details. Ceng was the third principal at Lenape in six years, and the third principal to leave the district this school year. Longtime New Paltz Middle School Principal Dr. Richard Wiesenthal, unexpectedly resigned from his position on June 22, 2018. Duzine Elementary School Principal Debra Hogencamp resigned after 26 years of employment in August of 2018.
Superintendent Maria Rice offered some additional information on Ceng’s exit, as well as what comes next. “Dr. Ceng has accepted a position of superintendent of a small, 200-student school district and will begin on April 1, 2019. He will be sending a letter to the families . . . announcing his decision to leave.”
As for filling the two vacant positions, administrators plan “to have a search for both elementary principals with parent, board, staff and administrative participation in the interview process.” Board members are “in agreement that we should find a consulting firm that will do the recruitment. We believe employing a firm to conduct the recruitment of a slate of potential candidates will help us to know we did everything possible to attract diverse candidates that are experienced, qualified, NYS certified, and have a strong commitment to social justice. Search consultants are skilled in these practices, have national contacts and know where to look for potential candidates that will meet our criteria. I have already reached out to two firms recommended by a member of the board’s Racial Equity Initiative Advisory Committee and am waiting for other suggestions for firms from board members. The board and I will interview the firms and make a decision as to which one will best meet the district’s needs.”
In the next couple of weeks, said Rice, the details of that process should be clearer.