Principal appointed in special meeting

District seeks an end to Martin fracas at LBHS

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterpriseSeptember 29, 2012 

District officials have hired a new principal at Los Banos High School in hopes of ending six weeks of acrimony from people supporting the campus's former leader Dan Martin, who was reassigned in August.

Ryan Hartsoch was unanimously voted in as the principal of Los Banos High on Thursday during a special meeting of the Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees. Hartsoch, the assistant principal at Pacheco High, starts work Monday.

Superintendent Steve Tietjen said he did not want to wait until Oct. 11, when the board's regularly scheduled meeting will be held.

"Because of the circumstances of the last month and a half, I didn't want to delay it for two weeks when we could get someone by Oct. 1," Tietjen said.

School Board President Chase Hurley agrees with Tietjen.

"I think we needed to move forward. We wanted to get him in there so parents and students knew they had a leader," Hurley said.

On Aug. 2, Tietjen placed Martin, the former principal, on administrative leave. Martin was subsequently reassigned to administrator of special projects in a 5-2 vote by the school board on Aug. 9. That night, hundreds of Martin's supporters attended the school board meeting and voiced their opposition. Assistant Principal Dan Sutton was named the interim principal at the time.

A Facebook page titled "Reinstate Dan Martin" popped up on the Internet where former and current high school students expressed frustration toward Tietjen. Also, some students at Los Banos High have started wearing "Team Martin" T-shirts.

Earlier this month Martin released a letter through his attorney accusing Tietjen of having a vendetta against him and using intimidation tactics to try to remove him as principal.

Hartsoch chose not to address how he will handle possible animosity from Martin supporters once he begins his new job. He did, however, express gratitude for getting the position.

"I am excited and honored," Hartsoch said.

Tietjen said the principal position was advertised in-house for two weeks and two candidates, Hartsoch and Sutton, were interviewed on Monday. He said Sutton did an excellent job as interim principal but will return to his role as assistant. Tietjen also defended his decision not to seek candidates outside of the school district.

"We have some very qualified people. We've hired all our administrative positions in-house since I've been in Los Banos," Tietjen said.

Hartsoch said as principal he wants to improve the level of students' education.

"I want students to receive a 21st century education. What that is in my mind is when students cross that stage with that diploma they have the skills to be successful in their future endeavors," Hartsoch said.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached by phone at 388-6563, or by e-mail at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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