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School division seeks principled principal

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Liars should not apply for the principal's job at R.D. Parker Collegiate in Thompson.

Nor should anyone apply who intends to misrepresent himself or herself or the Mystery Lake School Division.

Only apply if you have skill in defending your school against outside forces and if you're a team player who's also prepared to stand alone against the world. And only apply if you're ready to keep a close eye on your teachers as they interact with 1,000 students and be ready to fire those teachers if necessary.

Those are among the qualifications in a job posting for the principal's position at R.D. Parker -- still vacant after trustees publicly fired former principal Ryan Land last winter.

"I don't think anyone in their right mind would apply, with those requests. A lot of that stuff, I'm amazed," said Rob Warren, executive director of the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba's I.H. Asper School of Business.

"Those are very strange qualifications to put in any job description. Those don't seem normal," he said.

Mystery Lake has had three superintendents and eight assistant superintendents in about the past four years; R.D. Parker Collegiate has gone through three principals and nine vice-principals in that time. The high school is on its second acting principal since the school board fired Land after earlier taking the extraordinary step of rebuking him in a public session.

"It's a highly unusual posting. Most career ads, you're phrasing things positively," said one senior public school administrator, who requested anonymity.

Most principals are hired internally, said the source. If a division goes outside to hire, the job posting normally describes the school and asks for applicants' administrative and curricular experience and expertise.

But no one in Manitoba normally asks if the applicant tells the truth, and as for specifying "the actual truth," as the posting says, the administrator said, "That struck me as quite odd.

"You can't stand alone and run a school. The skills demand bringing people together," said the source.

He pointed out principals can't fire employees under the Public Schools Act; only school trustees can do that.

Mystery Lake school board chairman Alexander Ashton did not respond to interview requests.

The Manitoba Teachers' Society refused to comment because it is representing Land in his grievances against the division.

Liars need not apply

Here are some of the qualifications Mystery Lake School Division is looking for in a new principal for R.D. Parker Collegiate:

Political savvy

Able to navigate through complex political situations effectively and quietly; is sensitive to how people and organizations function; quickly able to assess the potential impact of external influences on the organization.

Standing alone

Willing to take unpopular stand if necessary. Reliable during difficult times. Willing to be the sole supporter of an idea or position.

Integrity and trust

Is truthful and perceived as trustworthy. Leads by example and acts as a role model to staff and volunteers. Presents the actual truth at all times. Doesn't misrepresent him/herself or the organization.

Human resources

Staff the school properly to have the most positive impact on students.

Supervise and observe the staff in their roles with students to be sure standards are met.

Ensure periodic evaluations of staff are conducted and documented.

Support, develop, discipline and terminate staff as required.

-- Source:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 5, 2011 A12

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