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District Hires New Samohi Principal

By Lookout Staff

August 22 -- Dr. Hugo A. Pedroza – who headed a predominantly Hispanic inner city high school in Los Angeles – has been tapped as the new principal of Santa Monica High School.

As principal of Manual Arts High School, Pedroza ran one of ten large high schools in Los Angeles where the Small School Learning Communities (SSLC) program is being implemented.

The experience should prove helpful when he takes over the top post at Samohi, which has been divided into four “houses” in an effort to enhance oversight and provide a more personalized teaching environment.

“Dr. Pedroza will be an outstanding addition to the leadership team at Santa Monica High School,” District Superintendent Dianne Talarico said in a statement issued Monday. “I believe he will be instrumental in continuing the work of addressing the global needs of the campus while supporting the success of the redesign.

“He will challenge our students and staff as we courageously strive to raise achievement for the students we serve,” Talarico said.

Pedroza is working with district officials to negotiate a start date and develop a transition plan, she said.

Pedroza’s hiring comes nearly three months after Dr. Ilene Straus took a position in the district’s central office as Senior Director of Secondary Education after she was dogged by controversy over the redesign she spearheaded. (see story)

His hiring as principal of the district’s largest school helps fill a “power void” brought on by the resignation of Superintendent Dr. John E. Deasy in February. (see story)

Pedroza will move to a school in the affluent Santa Monica Malibu School District after serving as principal of a 4,200-student school in a part of LA characterized by high unemployment; single parent families, many of them poor, and multi-family rental housing.

Once predominantly black, Manual Arts is now more than 80 percent Hispanic, with most of the rest of the students African American, according to the school’s web site. More than half of the students list Spanish as their first language, and the school serves the third largest (Limited English Proficient) LEP population in the LAUSD.

Dr. Pedroza has more than 20 years of educational experience and holds a Ph.D., M.Ed. and B.A. from UCLA.

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