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Ted Zehr, a former St. Helens principal, takes on interim administrative role

Ted ZehrSt. Helens High School has a new interim principal leading students for the remainder of the 2017-18 school year.

Ted Zehr started his position with the district this week as students returned from winter break on Monday, Jan. 8.

Zehr said his role as an interim principal is somewhat unique, especially since he is also stepping into the job midway through the school year. During his first week on the job, Zehr is familiarizing himself with the high school and its staff.

"Well, the train is already moving down the track, and for me it's about getting on the train and figuring out what's going on," Zehr said.

While it's not Zehr's first principal position, it is his first time working as an interim. His plan is to gauge how the school is functioning and to identify areas where student learning can be improved and programs that are working, or not.

He said he also intends to help the transition of a full-time principal when one is hired.

Last summer, Superintendent Scot Stockwell appointed three interim principals to two open administrative positions at the high and middle schools as the district works to recruit full-time applicants for the positions in the 2018-19 school year. Jim Carlile led the high school from August to December.

Zehr worked for the St. Helens School District from 2003 to 2005 as the high school principal.

Zehr worked as an assistant principal with Century High School in the Hillsboro School District from 1997 to 2003, then returned to Century High in 2005 as its principal.

In 2015, Zehr worked as the executive director of secondary schools for the Hillsboro district, a role that tasked him with oversight of four middle schools, four high schools, and the district's alternative and online education programs.

The same year, Zehr was one of a handful of people named in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court by Shawna Dicintio, the parent of an openly gay Century High student, who alleged the district, the superintendent, several teachers, the dean of students and Zehr, as the principal, had violated her son's First Amendment rights. The suit also claimed the defendants violated anti-gender discrimination regulations and intentionally inflicted emotional distress, among other claims, at a time when the student alleged he was verbally threatened and abused while at the school.

All but two claims in the lawsuit were dismissed, and the suit was ultimately settled in June 2016.

Last March, Zehr was also considered as a finalist for a superintendent position with the Jefferson County School District in Central Oregon.

Zehr said he is excited to be back in the St. Helens community and is looking forward to meeting many new faces.

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