Aspen High School principal Abelmann steps down abruptly |

Aspen High School principal Abelmann steps down abruptly

Jeanne McGovern
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Art Abelmann

ASPEN – Aspen High School principal Art Abelmann is expected to tender his resignation Friday, effective immediately.

His departure – officials said he won’t be on the school campus Friday – came with no prior formal announcement. Superintendent John Maloy said he will schedule a meeting with faculty, and will “certainly follow up with students in an appropriate manner.”

Maloy would not comment on whether Abelmann was asked to resign; rather, he referred to Abelmann’s official letter of resignation, which cites personal reasons. Abelmann said he had “no comment at this time” regarding his departure. He said he will return to New Hampshire, where he was a teacher and later a school administrator, but did not elaborate on his plans.

Abelmann was hired less than two years ago to replace longtime Aspen educator Charlie Anastas, who retired after the 2009-10 school year. Abelmann was one of the first AHS leaders hired from outside the school’s ranks in recent memory. As such, he was received with both enthusiasm and criticism by teachers, students and parents. His contract was to run through June 30, 2012.

“Anytime something like this happens before the end of the school year, one would consider it to be unusual,” Maloy said. “But the timing was appropriate now.”

“It’s fair to say that the superintendent and I have been talking to try and figure out an exit strategy that makes sense and this is what it came down to,” added Abelmann during a conference call late Thursday afternoon.

An interim principal has yet to be named. According to Maloy, he and assistant superintendent Julia Roark will work with assistant high school principal Jeff Kraunz in the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break to oversee day-to-day operations at the school. During that time, they will also start looking for an interim principal; Maloy said they anticipate having this person in place when school is back in session in 2012. They hope to have a permanent replacement in place by July 1.

Fred Peirce, president of the Aspen board of education, said Thursday night that the board was told of Abelmann’s resignation; under the district’s model of policy governance, board members have no authority in staff matters beyond the superintendent.

“It’s been a process and we were informed about what was happening,” Peirce said. “With these types of things, the timing is generally never really good. But I think John has a plan, and Art thinks this is what’s best for him, so that’s how it has to work.”