By Benjamin Joe
Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School will continue to be administered by Jeffrey White for the rest of the school year following the resignation of Michael Mann, now former principal of the over 1,200 students who attend the school.
Superintendent Daniel Ljiljanich said a new principal would take the reins in July.
“Currently, we have Mr. White, who has been the acting principal, filling in that role,” Ljiljanich said. “He is now going to be the interim principal until the end of the school year.”
Ljiljanich said White is an experienced high school principal. Before coming to Niagara-Wheatfield as the assistant principal, he had been a principal in another district.
“We also have someone filling in as the assistant principal,” Ljiljanich said. “We’re not short of coverage at the high school.”
“It will be an open search,” he said in regard to how a new principal for the school will be found. “We hope to start interviews by the end of January, and have a candidate to the school board for examination, probably by the end of February with a start date of July 1. The reason for that is, of course, they’d have to give notice, but also it’s just difficult to ask someone to come in mid-year, especially for a high school principal job.”
“We haven’t put together the job description yet and the postings,” he continued. “We’ll work on that now with the HR department. It will be part of the posting.”
Mann had resigned amid a scandal within the school in which two students were involved in a rape case. With no plan of action by the school or district in terms of communicating and taking action, the school faced criticism for how the situation was handled. Particularly, the school was criticized for not pulling the alleged rapist from the school immediately after charges were made. This placed him in proximity of the victim within the high school, as reported by local news sources. The defendant has since pled guilty and has been removed from the school.
“There was a question asked (at a Board of Education meeting) about what it is we learned from the investigation,” Ljiljanich said. “One of the things that we are doing, and we’re working collaboratively with the district attorney’s office, the county’s district attorney’s office, in putting together a plan for situations in which where a student in a school in Niagara County would be assigned a child victim’s advocate through the district attorney’s office. In any of those cases, that advocate would be the point person between our school counselors, our school resource officers and also with the school administrator and the superintendent.
“There wasn’t a clear plan in place as to who it was that would be passing that information along. So, that’s what we’ve worked on together.”
A post on the school’s website (www.nwcsd.org) titled ‘”Important information for school community” by Ljiljanich also looks to the future.
“Mr. White, who has served as acting principal this school year, will continue in this leadership role as interim principal until our search for a new principal is complete,” the post read. “Mr. White has done an outstanding job working with the high school team to create a smooth start to the school year, and is enthusiastic about continuing his work with our students and staff to foster a positive learning environment.”