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Principal to Take L.A. Unified Post

Ron Bauer, head of El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills, will step down Oct. 7.

September 26, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

El Camino Real High School Principal Ron Bauer, widely praised for setting high academic standards for all students, has announced that he will step down to take an administrative post in West Los Angeles.

Bauer, 56, told his staff Tuesday that he plans to start his new job as director of secondary school services for a subdistrict of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Local District D, on Oct. 7. He will supervise principals at the subdistrict's five high schools.

Bauer announced his decision to the school's 3,500 students over the public address system Wednesday morning. The students reacted strongly to his imminent departure.

"I have had so many kids come up to me hugging me and crying and telling me how much they are going to miss me," Bauer said Thursday.

"In a way, the reaction validates what I believe in my heart, and that is that these kids are really fantastic."

During Bauer's eight-year tenure, students at the Woodland Hills campus won two national Academic Decathlon titles and consistently scored high marks on statewide standardized achievement tests.

But he didn't focus only on the high achievers. He said he kept "the ship steered in a manner that helped not only the brightest kids, but those who were struggling."

The veteran administrator's most daunting challenge, he said, was a failed campaign to transform the campus into a charter school. The restructuring would have allowed the school to become independent from the district and free to devise its own curriculum and policies while receiving public funds.

El Camino withdrew its application for charter status last school year amid infighting and an investigation of accusations that Bauer intimidated teachers into supporting a charter, an allegation he has denied.

"Some of what happened last year allowed me to conclude that I may not be the guy to move the school into charter status," Bauer said. "There is strong momentum to continue, but several teachers need to step up, learn the charter process and be right there with the principal to get the charter through."

Pete Ferry, whose stint as interim principal at Woodland Hills' Taft High School ends next month, will take over at El Camino Real until a permanent replacement is found, said Local District A Supt. Deborah Leidner.

A committee of administrators, teachers and community residents intends to screen and interview applicants before recommending three finalists to Leidner, who would make the final decision, she said.

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