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Santa Margarita High principal resigns a month after reprimand

February 28, 2007|Seema Mehta and David Haldane | Times Staff Writers

The principal of Santa Margarita Catholic High School on Tuesday announced his plans to resign at the end of the school year, the latest upheaval at the southern Orange County parochial school.

The announcement comes about four weeks after Brother Lawrence Monroe was briefly placed on administrative leave for not reporting parental concerns about a teacher's behavior.

In late January, religion and art history teacher Eric Hansen was placed on leave after diocesan officials received complaints about behavior on student trips to Europe led by Hansen. An investigation is ongoing, and Diocesan officials have declined to reveal the nature of the allegations.

Monroe returned to his position about a week later.

In a letter to parents, Monroe said his time at the Rancho Santa Margarita school had been fulfilling.

"My five years with you ... have been a spiritually and professionally uplifting experience," he wrote. "I thank God for the opportunities afforded me, but, perhaps it is time for a less hectic pace elsewhere."

Attempts to reach Monroe, 68, of Dana Point, were unsuccessful Tuesday. A spokesman for the Diocese of Orange said he could not comment because it was a personnel matter.

In announcing the decision, Father Gerald M. Horan, vicar for faith formation and superintendent of schools for the diocese, wrote, "The investigation found that Brother Lawrence did not follow our policies with regard to the reporting of accusations of misconduct against staff, but that this inaction was not, in any way, driven by malice or any intentional disregard for these directives."

Monroe also addressed the issue in his letter.

"In the matters which have given rise to the current controversy, my judgment regarding the interpretation and application of diocesan policy has been questioned. In retrospect, I agree that I did not make a good judgment call," he wrote.

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seema.mehta@latimes.com

david.haldane@latimes.com

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