Clarke Community School Board has hired a new high school principal.
During a June 9 school board meeting, the board approved Shane Stephens, 47, for a one-year contract with a salary recommendation of $97,000. Stephens’ starting date is July 1.
“He has served as an assistant principal, as well as a high school principal. He spent several years as an MP in the military,” said Steve Seid, Clarke’s new superintendent. “You know, when we did the interviews, the interview teams really felt strong about this individual. He seemed to really have connected with the staff … this felt like it was a very good match with his background, his philosophy, his working with students. He’s very open to talk about his background, military and all those kinds of things. So, we just felt this was a nice match for what we were looking for.”
In early April, the school board approved Clarke Community High School Principal Kim Antisdel’s resignation. She had been a principal for five years.
During the June 9 meeting, Clarke Community Middle School Principal Jeff Sogard was asked about his thoughts on Stephens.
“He has a lot of different types of experiences that I think will help him here,” Sogard said. “(He) came across very open and honest. I mean, he didn’t withhold anything, I don’t feel. He was very forthcoming.”
Stephens’ previous administration experience was also discussed. He was a high school principal for one year at Glenwood, assistant high school principal at Perry for three years and an assistant high school principal at Davenport Assumption for one year.
Seid said Stephens had explained why he chose to leave Glenwood after one year.
“He said that there was some differences that he was concerned with, with some assessing of some students and some directional things,” Seid said.
According to Seid, he spoke with Glenwood’s superintendent, and the superintendent verified what Stephens had said.
“There’s no negative nothing, character. He said there’s just some differences and he actually gave him a very good recommendation,” Seid said.
However, it should be noted an online news search of Stephens showed numerous articles reporting him leaving Glenwood because of medical reasons and declining health.
These various articles included Glenwood’s “The Opinion-Tribune,” “The Omaha World-Herald” and a report from Red Oak’s KMAland.com.
Clarke School Board President Gerard Linskens spoke with the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune in a phone interview June 11.
Linskens said any past medical history is one of those items that can’t be asked at an interview and is a liability to discuss it in meetings.
What is most relevant is Stephens’ capacity to do the job and how he compared in the overall interview process, Linskens said. He said Stephens rose to the top and looked like a strong candidate.
Linskens said he didn’t have any doubt about Stephens as the new principal.
“I hope that as a community, we could just look at why he would be a great candidate and do great things for our school district,” he said. “I hope as a community we would welcome him on board.”
During an phone interview June 12, Stephens addressed previous news reports and said he is 100 percent physically healthy, has had a physical and is ready for the upcoming school year.
“I plan to be there for a long time,” Stephens said.
During the June 9 school board meeting, it was stated five candidates were interviewed for the high school principal position. Overall, there were 27 applicants.
The principal interview process was open for school board members to attend, however, no board members did.
“We trusted the whole team, the administrative team,” Linskens said. “That’s what we should do as a board.”
Clarke School Board Member James Bair asked Seid if there were any concerns, and if Stephens is 100 percent the right candidate.
“We really feel like he will be a good addition to the district,” Seid said. “One of the things that I found in making reference calls how he really connects with students, and for us, that was a real important component, and the consistency that he brings.”
Since Bill Jorgensen, head high school custodian, attended the principal interview process, Seid asked him to express his thoughts on Stephens to the board.
“He seemed like a good guy. He was the best of the five,” Jorgensen said.