Permanent district principals to be announced in March

Search to fill positions began Jan. 15


Matt Austin

After former Pascack Valley Principal Tom DeMaio retired on Dec. 20, and Pascack Hills Principal Glenn deMarrais announced his retirement on Monday, Jan. 13, the permanent principal spots are open for next school year. The permanent principal positions for both PV and PH will be announced by the end of March.

Ilmie Xhaferi, Staff Editor

The permanent principal positions for both Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills will be announced by the end of March, according to District Superintendent Erik Gundersen. These positions were posted on Wednesday, Jan. 15, and candidates have until Feb. 2 to apply. 

After PV Principal Tom DeMaio retired on Dec. 20, and PH Principal Glenn deMarrais announced his retirement on Monday, Jan. 13, the principal spots became open for the 2020-2021 school year. 

“[The search process] is a completely open and welcoming process,” Gundersen said. “I’m looking for the best candidate and the best person that’s going to be able to continue to move Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills forward.”

Gundersen said that he has no preferences for an internal or external candidate, and applicants are applying for both district schools. He will be advertising these positions on The Star-Ledger and The New York Times.

After Feb. 2, Gundersen will conduct an online interview with each candidate as part of a screening process. A second interview will then be overseen by senior administrators until Gundersen makes a final recommendation to the Board of Education at the beginning of March. 

“Although I’m directly responsible for hiring the two principals,” Gundersen said, “I need to make sure that I am basing my recommendation on the feedback by parents, students, and staff members.”

A principal search feedback survey was sent to students, parents, and staff members in an email by Gundersen on Thursday, Jan. 16, as an “opportunity to hear what is most important for the hiring of a new principal.” The questions on the survey were based on leadership standards made by the National Association of Secondary School Principals

“I base the questions on those leadership standards because it looks at what the responsibilities are for the principal,” Gundersen said. “It also seeks from a student, parent, and staff perspective what they believe are the priorities we should be looking for in a principal. The same thing goes for characteristics and experience, as well.”

Assistant Principal John Puccio stepped in as PV’s interim principal and he said that he will be applying for the permanent principal position.

“Pascack Valley is a great place to me,” Puccio said. “I love my students, this awesome teaching staff, and the great community that supports us. I believe that this is my 12th year here, and I look forward to continuing making this the great place that it is and helping people in a different capacity.”

Puccio will have the opportunity to return as assistant principal if he is not the permanent principal. 

Physical education teacher Tom Gallione is now an acting assistant principal for Puccio’s previous position. While Gallione said he will not applying for the permanent principal position, he did say that he would be interested in applying as assistant principal if Puccio was to become the permanent principal.

“I’ve taught physical education, drivers ed, and health, and coached for 15 years,” Gallione said. “I feel that I’ve come across a large array of situations throughout my years that would be beneficial for students, staff, and parents, in that assistant principal role.”

Interim Assistant Principal Christine Pollinger has also filled in for Debbie Squiccimari after she retired last school year. Pollinger said that she is unsure if she will apply for the permanent principal position, but is interested in applying for the permanent assistant principal position.  

“I’ve really enjoyed this [position as interim assistant principal] and getting to know the students and seeing the really fascinating things they have to offer the school,” Pollinger said. “We have a really incredible student body here with really positive kids who want to change the world.”