Berkeley High School

Berkeley school officials are reopening their  hunt for a new high school principal after a two-month search failed to turn up a suitable candidate.

More than 40 people sent in their resumes for the job, but only six were asked to interview, said Mark Coplan, the district spokesman. Of those, only three bothered to show up.

So the district is going to hire a consultant to reach out and encourage qualified principals around the state to consider applying for the job, according to Lisa van Thillo, the assistant superintendent of human resources. It has also posted the job in state and national publications.

The goal is to have someone in place by July 1.

School principal jobs are often difficult to fill because the work is so demanding and high-profile, said van Thillo.

“When you have a flagship school like Berkeley High, a very active community that cares about what is going on, and it’s a very high profile position, it’s very hard to fill,” she said. “That’s just the nature of the beast.”

Jim Slemp, who took over as the principal of Berkeley High in 2003, announced his retirement in March. He will work until the end of the school year. Before Slemp took over the job, there were five principals in five years. One principal quit even before she officially started.

Serving as principal of a large urban high school can be a challenge, but it can also be rewarding, said Coplan.

“It’s an incredible job,” said Coplan. “This is an opportunity for a great principal who is out there doing great things and is ready to go to the mat.”

The school district has also had to reopen its search to replace van Thillo, who is retiring as assistant superintendent for human resources on June 30.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...