FOR MONTHS, local residents have been expressing their opinions about the embattled Woodland Hills school district. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

With the Aug. 16 resignation of principal Kevin Murray, a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by five current and former Black students, Woodland Hills High School began the new year with assistant principal Candee Nagy in the role of acting principal as the district searches to fill the post.

Nagy, formerly a biology teacher with the district, has been an administrator since 2012. A 25-year veteran in education, she previously served as a middle school principal in the Wilkinsburg school district. She is among those applying for the vacant principal’s position, which is posted on the district website and in national trade publications.

Whether or not she ends up being offered the position permanently remains to be seen, as Woodland Hills school board president Alan Johnson—who is also named in the lawsuit—said the board wants an array of candidates to choose from because filling the post is an important step to healing the divisions brought out by the accusations leveled by the lawsuit at himself, the district, Murray, assistant principal Patrick Scott, Churchill borough, Churchill police officers Stephen Shaulis and Chris Lewandowski, and Dynasty Security, which provides additional security at the school.

Even though he expects to have a selection by October, he said the district will take its time because, “Somebody is going to have to come in to that building and rebuild the confidence and trust of the community.”

Braddock Councilwoman Tina Doose, who also sits on the district’s recently-formed Commission on Youth Development and Learning, said during the Aug. 23 press conference announcing the lawsuit that a new principal is only part of what is needed. She wants changes on the school board, restorative justice practices initiated—which do not automatically suspend students—and more African American teachers and administrators hired; that includes the next permanent principal. She also wants the district to hire a diversity and equity director.

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