MICHIGAN CITY – When the new school year begins at Marquette Catholic High School in less than two weeks, it will be with a new administrator and a new leadership model.
Marquette President/CEO James White has left the school after 12 years and taken a job as principal at Lake Michigan Catholic Schools in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Colleen Rabine, spokesman for the Diocese of Gary, would not comment on the circumstances surrounding White's departure, but said there will not be a new president.
"With the departure of the school president, the school board reviewed current needs and determined it would be most appropriate to engage a principal leadership model for the upcoming school year," Rabine said.
As to White, she said only, "The Diocese of Gary and its schools respect the privacy of current and former employees. By law, we are not at liberty to discuss personnel matters."
That means second-year principal Allyson Headd will be heading the Marquette administrative team.
"The board has the utmost confidence in the current administration," Rabine said. "The Diocese provides support and guidance to all of its high schools with respect to financial matters as well as other affairs essential to successful school operations."
“Allyson Headd is entering her second year as our leader at Marquette Catholic High School,” said Dr. Joseph Majchrowicz, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese.
“Through her actions, Allyson has demonstrated that she is an engaged and caring leader who has her students, staff and school community’s best interests at heart," he said. "I continue to have a high degree of confidence in her leadership abilities. Our office stands at the ready to provide any and all support necessary to ensure another exciting and productive year at Marquette Catholic.”
The Rev. Michael Yadron, diocesan administrator, said, "The Diocese of Gary will continue to offer support and guidance to all of its schools. In a particular way, the diocese will be working with the Marquette administration to re-imagine and strengthen its operation.
“Our diocese is blessed to have three high schools (Marquette, Andrean in Merrillville, and Bishop Noll in Hammond), each having unique identities,” Yadron said.
“We work with our schools to help them plan their future as they provide for the present needs of their students. The diocese will be closely collaborating with Marquette as it explores how best to continue in its provision of quality Catholic education to the people in Michigan City as well as its neighboring communities," he said.
"I have every confidence in the present administration and believe that this will be a good year for the school.”
White will be moving to a new district overseen by the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
Lake Michigan Catholic Schools includes a preschool, elementary and middle schools, and Lake Michigan Catholic High School, which has 237 students in grades 6-12.
He had been a member of the Marquette administration since July 2007, coming to Michigan City after serving as principal at Gavit High School in Hammond.
White did not respond to an email request for comment.
Marquette spokesman Bradley Collignon would say only that White is "no longer an employee of the Diocese of Gary," but referred all other questions about the administration to the Diocese.
He did deny reports that the administrative change had forced the opening of school to be moved back.
"The scheduled first day of classes has not changed – new and transfer students will have an orientation day on Friday, Aug. 16, with all students reporting to campus on Monday, Aug. 19, for the first official day of classes," Collignon said.
Rabine said Marquette "administration, staff and teachers are looking forward to a great year," and said a recent land acquisition could even help expand some programs.
"With a recent land exchange, Marquette acquired property adjacent to the baseball field, increasing the school’s footprint by 50 percent," she said. "This provides the high school with the ability to expand its offerings as the Diocese and school board plan for its future."
The Diocese, board and Marquette Foundation are "prepared to contribute resources as needed to continue Marquette's tradition of academic excellence provided in a rich culture of Catholic faith, a mission which began when the school was established in 1886," she said.