Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday selected former Santa Monica High School Principal Ilene Straus to serve on the state Board of Education, according to reports.

Straus, who oversaw Samohi’s transition to the House System, which broke up the campus into six small learning communities, is currently an assistant superintendent in the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

Brown originally appointed Bill Honig, however he withdrew his name for consideration.

Honig, who served on the state board during Jerry Brown’s first tenure as governor and went on to be elected state superintendent of public instruction three times, was among the new governor’s most controversial early appointments, according to the L.A. Times.

Honig resigned as state superintendent in 1993 after being convicted of conflict-of-interest charges involving state education payments received by his wife’s nonprofit organization.

Honig told the Times there were “some complications” with his nomination, but he refused to elaborate.

Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford did not offer an explanation for Honig’s decision but said “the governor has encouraged him to stay involved with state education policy.”

While at Samohi, Straus’ leadership was called into question by some teachers and parents who questioned her effectiveness in implementing the redesign of Samohi. Critics of the redesign said it led to division on the campus, while supporters believed student achievement rose because of the closer relationships developed between students and teachers.

Straus worked in the SMMUSD for more than 25 years.

The state Board of Education sets K-12 education policy in the areas of standards, instructional materials, assessment and accountability. It selects textbooks for grades K-8. There are 11 members appointed by the governor.


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