The start of the school year at Los Banos High is tinged with uncertainty.
For the first time in six years, Dan Martin is not at the helm as principal and there is no timetable for finding a permanent replacement.
Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the school board must decide how it wants to proceed in establishing new leadership for Los Banos' oldest high school. Tietjen said he has yet to speak with board members to determine if they want to take applications for the principal position or whether Interim Principal Dan Sutton will be given the job.
School board President Chase Hurley could not be reached for comment and board Trustee Dennis Areias said he is not speaking to the press.
Martin was reassigned to administrator of special projects last week in a 5-2 vote, following a contentious board meeting in which his supporters used terms like "attacked" and "harassed" in reference to the way they felt Tietjen treated the Los Banos High principal. Trustees John Mueller and Andreé Soares voted against reassignment.
Truancy, safety cited
Tietjen said Martin's new duties as administrator of special projects partly include dealing with truancy issues and students' welfare and safety.
Martin is working out of the district's operations and maintenance building. Tietjen declined comment on why Martin was not placed at the district office, citing "personnel matters."
Martin graduated from Los Banos High in 1981 and went on to work on the campus as a teacher and later as dean. He was named interim principal in late 2005 after the departure of former Principal Mary Catherine Grissom. In May 2006, the interim tag was removed from his title.
Current and former students at Los Banos High School have posted messages of support for Martin on a Facebook page titled "Reinstate Principal Martin." There has been talk in town of a silent protest involving students coming to school wearing T-shirts with a message demanding Martin get his job back.
Sutton said he is interested in the job.
"It would be something I'm interested in as I look to advance my career. (But) I'm certainly going to support whatever the board wants to do," Sutton said.
He said no precautions have been taken in expectation of students being disruptive over the Martin issue. Sutton said he's fine with protests as long as they're done in a manner that doesn't impede learning.
Last week, Hurley said he hopes the district can heal from any bad feelings caused by the school board vote.
"It's a tough decision, but let's move forward," he said.