School community remains quiet about AHS principal’s departure
November 19, 2011
ASPEN – The sudden resignation of Aspen High School principal Art Abelmann on Friday might have some wondering what led to the decision, but few in the school community are talking publicly.
Several people contacted Friday declined to comment; others never replied or asked that their opinions be kept off the record. A group of Aspen High students submitted a letter to the editor but later asked that it not be published.
An email blast to all parents in the district from Superintendent John Maloy on Friday said Abelmann resigned for personal reasons. On Thursday, 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.
Parent Leah Moriarty, who does not have a child currently enrolled at AHS, said she “personally liked the guy … but we’re a funny group here in Aspen; it’s a big giant puzzle to make everyone fit what we think we need for our kids.
“As we all know, as one door closes, another one opens …”
Abelmann was hired less than two years ago; his contract was scheduled to continue through June 30, 2012.
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Longtime Aspen High School teacher Andy Popinchalk noted that Abelmann was one of many new administrators who staffers have had to get to know over the years. He said he and most of his fellow teachers received Abelmann’s appointment with “open and objective anticipation.”
While Popinchalk is not privy to the reason for Abelmann’s resignation, beyond the official statement, he said, “The factors and events that led to his leaving emerged as his time here passed. No one judged him or labeled him or hindered his insinuation into his administrative functions here.”
The students who wrote to The Aspen Times called Abelmann “one of Aspen High School’s most loved faculty members.” They said they were “distraught with this sudden decision” and implied it was not Abelmann’s choice, calling it a “BIG mistake.”
School officials, including Maloy and assistant AHS principal Jeff Kraunz, did not return messages Friday seeking further comment.
Maloy and assistant superintendent Julia Roark will work with Kraunz in the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break to oversee day-to-day operations at the school. During this 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.