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Finalists Named in Stevens Search

Principal Candidates To Visit Claremont

Claremont — The field of candidates to replace Frank Sprague as principal at Stevens High School has been narrowed to two.

Patricia Barry, with the Hillsboro-Deering School District, and Jennifer Prileson with Indian River School in Canaan, will visit the school and community over the next two weeks, Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin told the School Board Wednesday night.

Barry and Prileson will meet with staff, students and parents. He expects to recommend one of the two candidates as the next Stevens principal to the School Board on April 16.

Barry has been the principal of Hillsboro-Deering Middle School since July 2011 and prior to that taught at Conant High School for nine years. Prileson has been assistant principal at Indian River for seven years.

McGoodwin said both candidates have strong backgrounds in curriculum and instruction and have demonstrated leadership skills. Eleven candidates applied including applicants from Arizona, Minnesota and Alaska. A committee that included parents, students and staff members reviewed applications and interviewed candidates. No one in the district applied for the job.

Sprague, 61, will retire at the end of the school, after two years as principal.

Also Wednesday, School Board Chairman Richard Seaman addressed the recent arrest of a former Stevens High math teacher, Christopher LeBlanc, 29, on charges of sexual assault against a 14-year-old student.

“It is our responsibility as a board and as members of the community to provide a safe location for students,” Seaman said. “I am sorry this has happened. The anger and shock has not worn off.”

Given the “double life” LeBlanc seemed to have led, it would have been difficult to know this was happening, and it would be very difficult to come up with a policy to that would prevent a similar situation from happening again, Seaman said.

McGoodwin said Tuesday that the administration followed the proper procedure when it hired LeBlanc last year. He said LeBlanc had falsified his application to the school district by answering no to the question of whether he had ever been convicted of a felony.

McGoodwin also said the process for background check is defined by state law. State Police conduct the checks and then send a report to the school district.

The law lists the crimes that a background check would flag including homicide, pornography and sexual assault. It does not include the crime LeBlanc was convicted of in 2006 — selling stolen items on the Internet.

Seaman said the board’s appropriate response is to remain committed to providing a safe environment for every student in the district.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.