MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Mahopac School District suffered a setback last month when the candidate who officials had chosen to become the next high school principal backed out at the last moment.

School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon was prepared to introduce the new principal at the Board of Education’s May 18 meeting, but was informed that he had reconsidered and decided to remain with his old school.

Creedon said the candidate was from a smaller high school in Westchester County and was given a counteroffer, which he decided to accept.
“He has tenure where he is now and he would have had to give that up to come here,” Creedon said. “They offered him [a raise] and he couldn’t turn it down. He was aware of the fact [Mahopac] was a much larger high school with more responsibilities.”

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Creedon said the candidate couldn’t resign from his old post until he was officially named the MHS principal and hadn’t anticipated that his old district would make a counteroffer. Creedon said he didn’t believe the candidate had used Mahopac as a pawn to leverage a better contract for his current job. 

“No, he was an honorable man,” Creedon said. “The size of our district is twice the size of the one he is in now and they made a pitch to keep him. It was hard for him to walk out on them. They put money on the table and that sweetened the decision, which was unfortunate for us.”

Assistant Superintendent Ron Clamser said the candidate was an assistant superintendent in Westchester and had also acted as interim principal. He said losing the candidate at the 11th hour was tough to take.

“This was a huge disappointment,” Clamser said. “But these things happen; it is not uncommon.”

The need for a new principal arose last year when then-MHS principal Dr. Adam Pease was promoted to an assistant superintendent position. Athlete Director John Augusta was named interim principal with hopes that the district could find Pease’s permanent replacement relatively quickly.

“We went through this process last summer and couldn’t find one,” Clamser said. “We had a real difficult time.”

But Creedon is optimistic that the district can find a new candidate and introduce him or her at the June 15 Board of Education meeting.

“We have already gone back to the other finalists,” he said. “I did four phone interviews last night (May 30),” he said. “We identified them in the past and now we are bringing them back in.”

Creedon said he would likely whittle the four candidates down to two or three and they would meet with a committee of stakeholders that include the presidents of the administrators’ union, teachers’ union, PTO representatives and others. The School Board would also meet with them and then Creedon will make his final recommendation.

“You always hope to come to closure with the talent you have attracted,” Creedon said. “But with top talent, there is always competition. But the candidates we have right now are all very strong. I think Mahopac will be happy with the candidates we have coming to lead our high school.”