CARY – About 60 combined staff, parents and community members attended a meeting Monday night to discuss the open principal position at Cary-Grove High School.
Principal Jay Sargeant is resigning from the position effective July 1.
District 155 Superintendent Johnnie Thomas said Sargeant notified him of the decision earlier this year, and the decision was made for “personal reasons.”
“[Sargeant] made a decision to do what’s best for him and his family, and we respect that,” Thomas said.
Sargeant was not immediately available to comment on his resignation.
The meeting took place Monday night at Cary-Grove High School, allowing the community to give its feedback regarding the open position.
Thomas led the meeting, asking community members what they want to see from the next principal and what they would like to see improved at the school.
Some of the characteristics that community members said they want to see from the next principal included good communication skills, the ability to lead by example, someone who is an advocate for the community and someone who has experience in a high school setting.
“I’d like whoever is selected to continue what Jay Sargeant has done,” parent Missi Brezina said. “Someone who won’t take the school down a different path with different ideas than Jay had.”
Thomas said the district will be looking for “someone who is going to be invested in this community.”
The district also has been talking with students and faculty to get their thoughts on what they want to see from the next principal, Thomas said.
Cary resident Kassie Pinter, whose son is a junior at Cary-Grove, said she was devastated when she heard about Sargeant’s resignation.
“Jay’s resignation will change the trajectory of this entire school,” Pinter said. “Parents, volunteers, teachers and, most of all, students will be profoundly impacted.”
“Dr. Thomas, I don’t think you have any idea how crucial that man is to this school and to these children,” Pinter said at the meeting. “Otherwise, you would have done everything in your power to ensure he manned this ship for at least the tenure of your term, if not long beyond that.”
Thomas responded by saying he wishes he could have kept Sargeant, but in the end, it’s Sargeant’s decision.
“I wish I could turn back the clock and wish we could have convinced [Sargeant] otherwise,” Thomas said.
As of Monday night, Thomas said two internal candidates and more than 40 external candidates have applied for the position.
Thomas said he hopes a new candidate is chosen by next month, and he wants to be aggressive in the search so good candidates don’t go somewhere else first.
Another meeting is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Crystal Lake South High School.
That meeting will include discussion on Crystal Lake South Principal Scott Shepard moving to his new role of assistant superintendent of educational services, leaving an opening for a principal at South as well.
The principal positions are posted on the district website, and applications will be reviewed through the end of the month.
After screening the candidates, Thomas said there will be three rounds of interviews before final selections are made.