Renton narrows superintendent search to three candidates

April 4, 2013

By Staff

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There are only three candidates left in the Renton School District’s search for a new superintendent.

Merri Rieger, Crystalee Sweeting and Flip Herndon emerged as the top three candidates to succeed Mary Alice Heuschel.

Rieger is currently the chief student achievement officer with the Kent School District; Sweeting is an assistant superintendent with the Puyallup School District; and Herndon is the superintendent of the Bremerton School District.

The remaining finalists each spent a day in the district in early April, culminating with a public meeting at one of three elementary schools.

Community members were invited to attend and meet the candidates, and ask questions that would help guide the Renton School Board in making a final decision.

Prior to her role with the Kent School District, Rieger spent time as a high school principal in the Bremerton School District and as the dean of students and a high school teacher in the Auburn School District. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at Washington State University.

Sweeting worked with the Puyallup School District in several capacities, including as an elementary school principal, prior to joining the district’s administration. She also spent time as a teacher in both Ellensburg and Federal Way. Sweeting earned her bachelor’s degree at Central Washington University, and both her master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Washington.

Herndon previously served as an assistant superintendent in the Tacoma School District. He also worked as a principal in the Shoreline School District, and taught at schools in Connecticut and New Jersey. Herndon earned his bachelor’s degree from Whitman College, his master’s degree at Harvard University and his doctorate degree at the University of Washington.

The board will appoint the new district leader in mid-April. The selected superintendent will begin work July 1.

The Renton School Board chose the final candidates from a pool of 12 who applied for the position to fill the vacancy left by Heuschel, who joined Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration as chief of staff in January.

Former Hazelwood Elementary School educator Vera Risdon has served as the district’s interim superintendent.

Learn more at And look for an update on the decision at



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