In yet another setback in the search for a new Staples High School principal, school officials confirmed late this morning that Shelley Somers, a Greenwich middle school principal who was the lone finalist for the job, has decided against taking the post.

The surprise announcement came a day after Somers was introduced at a public forum where Staples parents questioned her about the impending appointment.

At the forum, Somers -- who has been principal of Central Middle School in Greenwich since 2009 -- had discussed controversy from earlier in her career when she was operating a day-care center in Granby.

According to press accounts, she was under investigation by the state Department of Public Health during that time on eight allegations, including one that a toddler was left sleeping alone on a bus during a field trip.

According to a Hartford Courant article, a deal was struck in which Somers neither admitted guilt nor denied the allegations, but was forced to cut all ties with the center for five years.

Following the forum with Staples parents, Somers had been scheduled to be interviewed behind closed doors last night by the Board of Education.

In a statement, confirming news that broke early today on a Greenwich news website that Somers had withdrawn from consideration for the Staples job, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon issued this statement:

"It is with great regret that I inform you that Shelley Somers, the candidate who met with the community yesterday, has withdrawn her application to become the next Staples High School principal.

"I'd like to thank the search committee and everyone engaged in the process for all of their hard work and dedication to our schools. Since Ms. Somers has withdrawn, we will seek an interim principal at Staples for the next school year. During the interim period, we will re-energize our search to find the best principal for the long-term and continued strength of Staples.

"We wish Ms. Somers all the best and thank all who participated in the process for their engagement."

Somers on Wednesday emailed a statement to the Central Middle School community in Greenwich stating that she intends to remain in that job and is turning down the Staples offer, according to the Greenwich Free Press.

Somers' statement, according to the website, read: "After a long day yesterday at Staples High School, I have withdrawn my name for consideration for the principal position. As I talked with the various groups of stakeholders in Westport, I realized how important Central and Greenwich are to me. I look forward to working to create a safe and challenging environment at Central Middle School that meets the needs of all of our students. I feel certain that in collaboration with you, my leadership team, and my teachers and staff, Central will continue to grow and to thrive."

Somers was the lone finalist is this second round of a search to replace John Dodig, who is retiring at the end of the academic year.

In March, the search for a new principal had to be re-launched when neither of two finalists introduced at public meetings -- like the one Somers faced Tuesday -- was hired. Shortly after those sessions, Landon abruptly told the Board of Education that, "Neither would be moved forward."

- Updates later at the Westport News: www.westport-news.com.