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Los Banos principal reassigned

Los Banos High School Principal Dan Martin, who was placed on administrative leave with only days left until the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, has been reassigned.

On Thursday night, the Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to reassign Martin to administrator of special projects at the school district office.

Trustees Andree Soares and John Mueller voted against the action.

The move comes as classes at Los Banos High are scheduled to begin Friday.

Before the vote late Thursday, trustees listened as Martin and his colleagues, friends and family pleaded for his job.

In a statement Martin delivered to the school board in open session earlier Thursday, he said Superintendent Steve Tietjen recommended he be reassigned because he had lost confidence in him as a principal.

"This is about my character and my ability to run Los Banos High School," Martin said. "I don't do this for the job, for the money. ... I do this for the kids of Los Banos."

Martin defended his record as principal, citing increased test scores and student morale.

The 2011 Standardized Testing and Reporting scores at Los Banos High saw 11th-graders who are deemed proficient in English increase from 23 percent in 2010 to 33 percent. The school also had students considered proficient in physics rise by 10 percent.

But Los Banos High was less successful in mathematics. Only 13 percent of students in ninth grade were proficient in algebra, but the figure is up from 10 percent in 2010. And the far-below-basic category for ninth-grade algebra improved in 2011, dropping to 19 percent from 24 percent the previous year.

In a telephone interview before the meeting, Martin, 49, said he always has made the high school his priority. "All I can say is I love Los Banos High School, and I've always been about the community," Martin said.

Martin graduated from Los Banos High in 1981 and worked as a teacher and later a dean on the campus. 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 this week on a Facebook page titled "Reinstate Principal Martin."

Many other supporters of Martin attended Thursday's school board meeting to show solidarity.

Martin's mother, Charlene, had harsh words for the superintendent.

"Dan has been attacked and harassed with malicious allegations," she said. "Our superintendent is an outsider and will one day leave us. Upon his departure, the teaching staff will speak of his mistreatment."

School board trustees remained mum leading up to Thursday night's decision. After the decision was made, board President Chase Hurley said he hopes the district can heal from any bad feelings caused by the vote.

"It's a tough decision, but let's move forward," he said.

Assistant Principal Dan Sutton has taken over as interim principal at the high school. There is no word on whether he will be given the job permanently or if the district plans to seek other applicants.

Attempts to reach Sutton on Friday for comment on the upcoming school year were unsuccessful.

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