An educator who started his career in Palm Beach County schools at West Boca Raton High is poised to return as its principal, replacing Mark Stenner who was forced out of the job after a plagiarism scandal.
Craig Sommer, 39, began teaching at West Boca High in 2004. He eventually moved into a job as assistant principal at Boynton Beach High before becoming principal at Pine Jog Elementary in suburban West Palm Beach- a position that now must be filled.
Superintendent Robert Avossa announced Sommer as his pick Thursday afternoon along with his recommendations to fill three other open principal seats. The School Board will consider all four appointments at its regular meeting Aug. 19,
The other openings to be filled are at Berkshire, Everglades and Hagen Road elementaries. The nominees leave assistant positions at other schools.
Hagen Road’s former longtime principal, Richard Hughes, was removed from his post while his actions are investigated, but the district hasn’t said what those actions are.
Though the board vote will come two days after students return to campuses, the principals will be there to greet them when classes begin Aug. 17, according to the district’s statement.
Sommer’s most recent post put him in charge of one of the district’s most popular choice programs. Pine Jog’s environmental science program is the county’s most exclusive choice program with 220 applicants from outside the school’s boundaries vying for a mere 10 available seats.
Sommer replaces Stenner, whose words to departing seniors last spring warning them to stretch beyond their sometimes “bubble wrapped” upbringings proved to be plagiarized from the popular “You are not special” speech given by David McCullough Jr. to high schoolers in 2012. Stenner’s speech in 2014 was also lifted almost in its entirety from another popular commencement address.
After some back-and-forth regarding Stenner’s punishment, Avossa concluded Stenner’s credibility as principal was critically damaged. Last month, the board unanimously agreed, with board member Mike Murgio absent, and voted to move Stenner to a non-instructional job.
“Principals are vital to student success,” Avossa said in a written statement. “I’m confident that each of these individual will provide the leadership needed at each school to ensure teachers and students have the tools they need to perform at their best. “
The Palm Beach County School Board is set to approve the appointment of principals to 16 schools on Aug. 19. Sixteen of those were named earlier this week. The four principals Superintendent Robert Avossa named Thursday:
Berkshire Elementary School: Diana Perez. Perez most recently served as assistant principal at Greenacres Elementary School.
Everglades Elementary School: Amie Souder. Souder most recently served as assistant principal at Bak Middle School of the Arts.
Hagen Road Elementary School: Robyn Saltzman. Saltzman most recently served as assistant principal at Verde Elementary School.
West Boca Raton High School: Craig Sommer. Sommer most recently served as principal at Pine Jog Elementary School.