GROTON -- In an otherwise smooth search process, the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District announced last weekend that the names of finalists among candidates for school superintendent would not be released as scheduled.
The news came from School Committee member James Frey in the form of an email soon after the last of four interview sessions by the Superintendent Search Screening Committee held Dec. 20.
At that time, Screening Committee chairman Leslie Lathrop, while declining to comment on the interviews being held, said that all had been going well with a strong field of candidates.
According to the group's original schedule, names of finalists chosen by the Screening Committee were to have been submitted to the School Committee on Dec. 24.
That plan, however, changed suddenly with Frey's announcement.
"Please be advised that due to unanticipated circumstances, finalist candidates resulting from the Groton-Dunstable Regional Schools superintendent search screening process will not be publicly announced on Monday, Dec. 24, as was previously posted and planned," stated Frey.
"Essentially, NESDEC had not finished with fully processing the finalist candidates, reconfirming them and preparing their application materials for the next phase of the process, which will be public interviews," explained Frey. "We do expect to be able to maintain our overall schedule, with initial interviews beginning late next week on Friday, Jan. 4, and additional interviews taking place the week thereafter."
The district was forced into the search process when it was learned last year that former superintendent Joseph Mastrocola planned to leave the position after only two years on the job.
In the meantime, the School Committee chose to hire Anthony Bent as interim superintendent last spring and immediately began to make preparations for hiring a permanent replacement.
The Screening Committee was established with members representing a cross section of the community including the Boards of Selectmen of both Groton and Dunstable, school administrators and teachers, a parent and a senior citizen, and a student.
Lathrop said that after advertising the position, 26 applications were eventually received for the position with the most likely candidates interviewed by the committee.
In his statement, Frey stated that the names of finalists would be submitted to the School Committee first thing in the new year.
"Finalists are now planned to be named publicly on Wednesday, January 2, 2013," stated Frey.
For such positions as school superintendent, it is common practice not to release the names of candidates before reaching the finalist stage in order to protect those who are rejected from possible repercussions at their current places of employment.