Mesa Unified School District will need to hire another high school principal after first-year principal Tim Richard announced he will leave Westwood High School at the end of the school year.
Richard gave his notice last week, Mesa Superintendent Mike Cowan said. Richard will return to Florence Unified School District as principal of Poston Butte High School. Prior to his arrival at Westwood High in August, Richard was an assistant principal in Florence.
“Tim has done some creative things to really help that school,” Cowan said of Richard’s time at Westwood. “While we’ll certainly miss him and I’m sure he’ll miss the students, we’re excited for him to be able to go work with his mentor.”
Richard previously worked with Chris Knutsen, who is leaving the principal position at Florence High to be the Florence district’s assistant superintendent.
“Dr. Richard was mentored by Mr. Knutsen some years ago, and they have remained friends. Dr. Richard connects well with students and values teachers and faculty while keeping high expectations. He’s positive, a problem solver, not afraid to try new things, and is loyal to the cause (our kids),” the Florence district stated in its announcement of principal changes.
A new principal for Mesa’s Mountain View High School could be voted on Tuesday. Longtime Mountain View High principal Craig Luketich announced in the fall that he will retire in June.
“Craig is an extraordinary school leader and much of the accomplishments at Mountain View can be attributed to his guidance. We’re not looking for another Craig Luketich. We’re looking for another person who can continue his legacy forward,” Cowan said.
Each spring, the district makes a call for principal applicants because it can’t always anticipate when a new school leader will be needed, Cowan said. Because of that, there are already a few people interested in working in Mesa as a principal. The district will interview candidates for the Westwood position on April 22, Cowan said.
Westwood High assistant principal Thad Gates has also accepted a position in the Florence Unified School District. He will become leader of Florence High School.
Richard’s first year at Westwood has been praised by some and criticized by others. Two students who were caught fighting last fall were given the option of suspension or an hour of holding hands. The students chose to hold hands, with a photo of them going viral online.
At the time, a district spokeswoman said Richard’s discipline of the two students, “was outside our guidelines.”
Other students worried that Richard would be punished for his actions and decided to hold hands around the school to show their support. Their rally was covered by the local media, including this newspaper.
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