Shaler Area Middle School principal on furlough

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Parents of students at Shaler Middle School were notified on January 11 that principal Dr. Eric Stennett was going on immediate leave. The letter to parents gave no reason for Stennett’s unexpected leave, citing “confidentiality regarding personnel matters” in the district.

“I don’t think we can offer interviews on the subject,” Carrie Butler said on behalf of the district, adding that she would provide updates “when new appointments are made.”

Butler handles short-term communications for the district while communications specialist Bethany Baker is on leave.

Stennett, a Shaler Area graduate, started as a college principal in 2018.

Stennett also served as middle school principal for the Hampton Township School District, where he also left in the summer of 2016 under similar circumstances, on leave with little explanation from Stennett or the district, according to a 2016 Tribune-Review article.

Dr. Shannon Howard, the current vice-principal of the middle school, will act as interim principal, taking over the duties previously held by Stennett. An interim assistant manager will be appointed in the future to support Howard.

“We have full confidence in Dr. Howard’s leadership and will work with her to help her transition into this role,” Butler said.

School board member Tim Gapsky declined to comment on Stennett’s sudden departure, citing the district’s privacy policies regarding personnel issues.

Cindy Alexander is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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