West Marin School principal takes leave

11/07/2018

Chris Eckert, who was promoted this spring from his post as sixth-grade teacher to a one-year interim principal position at West Marin School, took an unexpected medical leave this week. In an email sent to staff last Sunday, Bob Raines, the district superintendent, said Mr. Eckert would take at least three weeks off to “address some personal issues.” Mr. Raines has reached out to the Marin County Office of Education for assistance in identifying a replacement for the coming few weeks; as of yesterday, he himself was covering the role. It’s just a few months before the board will reevaluate Mr. Eckert’s position; trustees appointed him in a pinch after demoting former principal Matt Nagle after school had already let out, in June. The plan is to be reevaluated in January, when the board will select a new principal from a pool of applicants, including Mr. Eckert, if he applies. Per district protocol, the process involved in hiring a principal includes advertising the post online and allowing a parent, staff and board-member hiring committee to make recommendations. Mr. Eckert, a 40-year-old Inverness resident praised for being a team player and natural leader, obtained his administrative credential last December, the latest step in a teaching career that has flourished over the past decade in Point Reyes Station. He has taught sixth grade at West Marin for the past four years and, since 2012, physical education, coaching cross country and track in the district for grades three through eight. Though another teacher who was invited to serve as a co-interim principal backed out after immediate backlash over the board’s decision—many either supported Mr. Nagle or else disapproved of the unilateral decision by the board to demote him—Mr. Eckert told the Light in July that he was up for the challenge. At that time, he acknowledged the district’s tumult, and said he hoped to “really value what has been working and not make too many big shifts.” Kasandra Semorile, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, said she was not aware of concerns from parents about a disruption. “Everyone understands that he is taking a short personal leave, and everyone is respecting his privacy,” she said. “Chris has developed a good rapport with the parents and students and they are looking forward to his return.”