OCEAN PARK — Ocean Park Elementary is missing a principal.
Ocean Beach School District administration are searching for an interim principal to replace Todd Carper, who left the school in mid-October.
“He’s not in trouble. He wasn’t removed,” said OBSD Superintendent Amy Huntley. “It was a personal situation. Nobody did anything wrong.”
Huntley said she can’t discuss personnel matters, and that all she can share about Carper’s leave is that it’s for personal reasons.
During a roughly 20-year tenure with OBSD, Carper worked as principal at Hilltop Middle School and Long Beach Elementary. Before joining OBSD’s staff, Carper was athletic director for Naselle-Grays River School District. He’s worked in education for almost 30 years.
During the 2018-19 school year, Carper worked as the district’s evaluator. His total salary for the 2018-19 school year was $103,313. Carper’s principal salary for the 2019-20 school year is $113,400.
Carper’s contract status hasn’t changed, Huntley said. However, she hopes the school board can hire an interim principal at its Nov. 25 meeting.
“We hope he will be able to return to help the district this year if he is able,” Huntley said.
In the meantime, Huntley, district administrators and two OPE educators are filling in the gaps Carper has left behind.
Fifth grade teacher Sheena Burke and intervention specialist Tracie Lorimor, who are both doing administrative internships to become principals, are working together as co-principals until OBSD hires a replacement.
A substitute teacher is covering for Burke and Lorimor when they’re acting as principal, Huntley said.
“We want a replacement [for Carper] as soon as possible,” Huntley said. “[Burke and Lorimor are] doing a dynamite job, but it’s their internship.”
Huntley is handling “all the legal decisions a principal has to do,” she said. She and other administrators “will try to be at Ocean Park Elementary for at least part of each day,” according to a letter she sent to parents and guardians on Oct. 29.
Huntley waited to inform parents and guardians until Oct. 29 so Carper could first announce his departure to staff, she said. Carper left OPE the week of Oct. 14. At the school board’s Oct. 23 meeting, nothing was publicly discussed or announced about Carper’s leave.
Carper later contacted his staff via email on Oct. 27, according to Huntley.
The interim principal position was posted on OBSD’s employment site on Oct. 28. According to the job listing, OBSD has been accepting applications since Oct. 28.
Huntley alerted district employees of Carper’s leave via email on Oct. 29, followed by her letter to parents and guardians.
“We weren’t sure what was going to happen for a while,” Huntley said.
An Oct. 29 Chinook Observer email sent to Carper returned with the following out of office message.
“I will be out of the office for the foreseeable future,” Carper’s email reads. “I will not be responding to emails for at least a couple of weeks.”
OBSD is working with the Association of Washington School Principals to find Carper’s replacement. The school district has reached out to retired administrators who may accept the position, Huntley said.
The interim principal’s salary is budgeted for between $67,980 and $71,280.
Later this school year, OBSD will focus on finding a permanent principal for OPE, Huntley said.