Principal Laurel Fretz
Principal Laurel Fretz
Principal Laurel Fretz

SAMOHI — Five members of the Santa Monica High School administration, including the principal, will be leaving the school by the end of the year, district officials said Thursday.

The changes are part of a comprehensive review of the skill sets needed at each of the schools to move forward with changes to student assessments, technology and refinements to how Samohi is organized, and not a reflection on the work of the administrators, said Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

“We’ve been fortunate to have truly outstanding administrators who have done great work for and given their hearts and souls to each of the schools. None of this is done lightly,” Lyon said. “I’m looking for the right combination of skills and collaborative pieces to do what I think we need to do in the years ahead.”

House principals Jason Kurtenbach, Renee Semik and Stephen Franklin told their teachers and staff on Wednesday that they would be leaving the district, and Principal Laurel Fretz announced her own departure in an e-mail to parents Thursday at noon.

House principal Clara Herran will assume the role of assistant principal at John Adams Middle School.

Eva Mayoral, the current JAMS principal, will take over Samohi beginning in the fall, and her assistant principal, Florence Culpepper, will join her as assistant principal of the high school.

Will Rogers Learning Community Principal Steve Richardson will take Mayoral’s spot as the principal at JAMS.

In a letter to the Samohi community, Fretz praised the outgoing administrators and touted improvements in academics and changes in instruction that have occurred over the past two years.

Indeed, a composite number representing standardized test scores at Samohi called the Academic Performance Index has risen from 804 out of a maximum 1,000 in 2011 to 823 in 2012, according to the California Department of Education.

“Together, we set goals and met them. Samohi is a great place to teach and a great place to learn,” Fretz wrote.

Fretz was hired in the summer of 2011 after the outgoing Principal Hugo Pedroza announced his intention to leave the school. She came onboard at a time when the Samohi community was up in arms over allegations that an African-American member of the wrestling team had been the victim of a racial incident while on campus.

Race and gang-related tensions persisted through the beginning of 2012, leading Fretz to spearhead an effort to bring an ethnic studies program to the campus.

She has also been at the center of some controversy over the dismissal of a popular photography teacher and overseen significant changes in the Athletics Department, including the loss of a baseball coach and switch up in the role of athletic director.

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