STREETERVILLE — Nearly seven months after Ogden International School's principal was abruptly reassigned, and later resigned — leaving the school leaderless for the beginning of the school year — the Local School Council introduced his replacement at a meeting Monday.
Joshua VanderJagt will join the staff Jan. 6 as principal of the CPS school, which serves students in preschool through 12th grade on two campuses. He replaces Kenneth Staral.
VanderJagt comes to Ogden from his current position as assistant principal at Kenwood Academy. He began his teaching career at Farragut Academy, where he was nominated for the Golden Apple Teacher Award for Excellence in Teaching and coached the varsity and JV football teams.
"As I hear it there were some really emotional feelings about taking you from there," council Chairman Stanley Kusper said Monday before introducing VanderJagt at the school's East Campus Monday.
VanderJagt will relieve acting administrator-in-charge David Domovic, former principal of Alcott School, who was appointed by CPS to hold the position before Staral permanently resigned from the school system.
VanderJagt was chosen by a principal selection committee made up of teachers and local school council members from a pool of 34 applicants after the formal hunt for Staral's replacement began in September.
Staral and Vice Principal Anthony Vandarakis were both "reassigned" for a "personnel matter" that CPS has repeatedly declined to comment on, citing confidentiality.
Staral and Ogden made headlines in 2011 after the principal charged $17,000 at high-end restaurants and hotels overseas while traveling to promote and expand the school's international programming. He later resigned, citing health issues.
Despite the negative publicity, many parents and students sang the praises of the former principal, who led the school since 1996, at a public meeting for parents and teachers July 9 where Staral's departure was announced but not explained.
"He was the heart and soul of this school," said T.J. Bernahl, 16, a senior who's been at the school since first grade.
An announcement issued by the council Saturday was optimistic that VanderJagt would fill Staral's shoes.
"Mr. Joshua VanderJagt was unanimously voted to become Ogden's next principal," Kusper wrote in the announcement. "Our council is extremely excited that Mr. VanderJagt will be joining our Ogden family. Please welcome him with open arms."