Montclair High School needs a “superstar” as its new principal, district officials say.

And if the search process doesn’t find the right person on the first pass, it will have to start all over again. 

The district has been searching for the past two months for a permanent replacement for former Principal Anthony Grosso. Grosso stepped down this summer to become the new superintendent of schools in Cedar Grove. 

Terry Trigg-Scales, who previously served as interim principal as the district searched for a replacement for outgoing Principal James Earle in 2018, returned to the high school to act as interim again. 

As of Sept. 21, more than 50 people had applied for the job, Human Resources Director Damen Cooper said at that evening’s Board of Education meeting. 

“I am frequently reminded by [Superintendent Jonathan] Ponds, we need a superstar, that building needs a superstar,” Cooper said. 

The principal job was posted on the district’s website on Aug. 24. The ideal candidate is expected to have, among their qualifications, strong communication, managerial and leadership skills; demonstrated knowledge of effective principles of teaching and learning; demonstrated ability to function effectively in a diverse school community; demonstrated aptitude for assigned responsibilities, and strong public relations skills. 

Cooper said he held a forum to discuss what qualities people want to see in a new principal with leaders from different community groups, as well as a group of parents. A second such forum is being planned for teachers and staff at the high school. 

The interview process will take place in four rounds. The first round, with senior district staff, will include all of the candidates, and the candidate pool will be narrowed for subsequent rounds. For the second round, candidates will meet with a panel of three parents, three teachers and three students. The third round will be open to the public. Candidates will be given data on the school, and they will have to use that data to put together a slide presentation. Members of the public will be able to ask the candidates questions.

The fourth and final round will be for the finalists, Ponds, Cooper and a group of senior staff members in the district. 

“If we do not find a superstar in this [fourth] round, we will have to go back out and start over. We are not going to settle,” Cooper said.