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La Cañada High leaders to leave at year's end

May 02, 2012

This post has been updated.

La Cañada High School Principal Jackie Luzak and Assistant Principal Aaron Dover will depart at year’s end, meaning that in the fall the school will welcome its fourth principal in the last five years.

Luzak has accepted a job as principal of Montgomery Middle School in San Diego County’s Cajon Valley Union School District, La Cañada school officials announced Wednesday.. Dover will take the top job at Pioneer Junior High School in the Upland Unified School District.

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“These types of organizational changes are always bittersweet,” La Cañada Unified School District Supt. Wendy Sinnette said. “We close the door with the departures of these administrators and wish them the best, and we look forward to the fresh opportunity that lies ahead.”

A search is underway to replace Luzak and Dover, Sinnette said. The application window for the principal position will close May 24, Sinnette said, with interviews and site visits scheduled for early June.

“We have an aggressive timeline and have a wide net cast,” she said.

Those involved in interviews of the principal candidates will include key site leaders, district administrators, parents and even some students, Sinnette said. The goal is to wrap up the search and name the new principal at a special school board meeting in June, she said.

But, she added, “it’s going to take as long as it takes to surface the absolute best candidate. We will go out again if a candidate who is of the highest quality doesn’t emerge.”

The departure of Luzak and Dover follows a March announcement that La Cañada Elementary School Principal Elissa DeAngelo will retire at the end of the school year. District leaders plan to name her replacement this month.

Sinnette said there is no connection between the departure of the administrators and the controversy involving high school math teacher Gabrielle Leko, who recently agreed to leave the school after she was found to have used inappropriate language while addressing students.

When the complaint against Leko became public last fall, some parents and students criticized the high school administration for failing to properly address their concerns.

Sinnette noted that Luzak’s career has focused on the middle school level, and that she has a home in San Diego County, and said Dover is “ready” for a principal post.

“These are definitely transitions for these two people that are in the best interests of their professional and personal lives,” Sinnette said.

Luzak was hired in 2008 as the principal of La Cañada High School 7/8 before moving to the high school job in 2010. Dover was hired as an assistant principal in 2010 and was responsible for the school's master schedule, testing and instructional programs.

Dover described his time at La Cañada High School as positive.

“You really learn what a truly rigorous academic environment looks like,” Dover said. “You learn how to nurture that, as well as you begin to realize the importance of having kids connected to schools in ways other than academics.”

Luzak was not immediately available for comment.

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-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News

Twitter: megankoneil

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