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2011 In Review: Principals shift at LBUSD schools

Top 5 Schools Stories of 2011

December 29, 2011|From staff reports
  • Former Laguna Beach High Principal Don Austin left this year for a job in the Huntington Beach Union High School District.
Former Laguna Beach High Principal Don Austin left this… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Laguna Beach High School Principal Don Austin left his post after five years with the high school to assume his new position as assistant superintendent of educational services at the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

Thurston Middle School Principal Joanne Culverhouse moved up to take the position at the high school in the summer, fully assuming the role at the start of the academic year.

Jennifer Salberg was promoted to principal at the middle school and Mikael Modeer was hired as assistant principal. He was previously assistant principal at Oak Crest Middle School in Encinitas.

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2. Track closes during non-school hours

Laguna Beach's Board of Education saw an uptick in public comments in March when concerned citizens approached the board about the closure of Laguna Beach High School's track during non-instructional hours.

About six months prior, the board had banned the use of the track and only allowed its use during school hours, citing safety reasons. Many residents said they hadn't heard of any threats to student safety.

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Supt. Sherine Smith read a statement to the group, which explained that while all perspectives were considered, the board came to the consensus that student safety was priority.

"It is important for us to be proactive rather than be placed in the position of being reactive after the fact," she said. "The safety of students is our obligation and first priority."

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3. Students from sister city visit

In October, the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn. helped coordinate a visit from students from Laguna Beach's sister city, Menton, France.

Odile Dewar's French class at Laguna Beach High School had been in contact with the French students for 18 months before the visit.

Their time here included dinners at Laguna restaurants, trips to local hotspots and time spent at LBHS attending classes with their American counterparts. They also spent a day in San Diego.

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4. Science teacher under review

A Laguna Beach High School teacher who allegedly showed up late and drunk at school was placed on a 45-day employment review in January by the Board of Education.

Joanie McKnight was sent home Dec. 10, 2010, after the principal asserted she smelled like alcohol.

McKnight received notice from the district Jan. 13 that said she had been tardy, under the influence of alcohol and insubordinate, according to her lawyer.

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