▶️ Bend’s High Desert Middle School names interim principal


The Bend-La Pine School District has named an interim principal for High Desert Middle School.

The announcement comes just days after it was revealed that former principal Wendy McCulloch has taken a new position in Washington state. It also comes after the district released its report about how a convicted child sex offender was let into a secure area of the school.

Summit High School Assistant Principal Mary Thomas will take over the role, the district said Monday.

“Mary Thomas is an excellent communicator, who is very student-oriented. She is known as a great listener who cares deeply about developing relationships and supporting students,” said Superintendent Steven Cook in a statement. “High Desert families and staff will be well-served by Mary, an inclusive, strong leader who is ready and excited to step into this role.”

RELATED: Bend’s High Desert MS let people past locked doors for years, district finds

Thomas has been an administrator at Summit for the past four years, the district said. She has also spent 17 years as a middle school and high school teacher in Bend, Sisters, the Portland area and Indonesia. That includes 10 years as an outdoor schools educator in the Portland area.

“My philosophy is to lead with grace and kindness and to make sure everyone feels heard and supported. I am excited to join an incredible team of educators, who are known for putting students first,” said Thomas in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with staff, families and students to support a safe, welcoming and inviting environment for learning.” 

An open search for a permanent principal will begin next year, the district said.

The district announced McCulloch’s departure last Friday. The announcement came at the same time the district revealed the results of its internal investigation into a June 7 incident in which a convicted child sex offender was allowed into a secure area of High Desert Middle School. The report also found that there had been multiple incidents over several years of people being allowed inside without proper check-in.

The district did not say if McCulloch’s departure was related to the incidents.


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