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Burbank High School finds its next assistant principal in Brian James

Brian James is the new assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School, shown in his office in Pasadena on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. James is leaving his position at John Muir High School in Pasadena. He has been with Pasadena Unified since 2014.
Brian James was hired to be the new assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School. James is leaving a similar position at John Muir High School in Pasadena, where he’s been since 2014.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

A seemingly lifelong regional educational tour that began in Pasadena will return former Burroughs High School football assistant coach Brian James to Burbank.

The Altadena resident recently accepted the post of assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School, which became vacant when Steven Hubbell crossed town to take a similar job at Burroughs High earlier this month.

James has over three decades of teaching and administrative experience with Pasadena and Los Angeles Unified school districts, while also having served as a contract adviser for the NFL Players Assn.

James spent the past five and a half years as an assistant principal at John Muir High School in Pasadena in charge of athletics, activities, attendance, discipline and special education.

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“I was clearly committed to Muir for a number of years,” James said. “When I was asked to apply for prior positions, I respectfully declined, but I said, ‘What the heck, let’s give this a chance. Let’s see what’s there?’”

James’ hire was announced during a Burbank Unified school board meeting on Thursday, and, according to Burbank High School principal Tom Crowther, James will be formally introduced to school officials during the next meeting on Dec. 19.

James said he anticipates he will start his new job when Burbank Unified begins its second semester of instruction on Jan. 6 because he has not yet been released from his contract with Pasadena Unified.

Robin Hatch will continue as the school’s interim assistant principal until James’ arrival.

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A graduate of Pasadena High School, James earned his undergraduate degree at USC and his law degree from Southwestern School of Law.

While James did not attend Burbank Unified schools, he’s no stranger to the Media City.

James served as a student observer to legendary Burroughs High basketball coach Brian Hurst, for whom the school’s gym is named after, and was also a junior varsity baseball coach at Burroughs.

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Brian James was hired to be the new assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School. James is leaving a similar position at John Muir High School in Pasadena, where he’s been since 2014.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

He is also a part of Indians football lore.

James was the running backs coach on the 1987 Burroughs High football team, which advanced to the program’s last CIF Southern Section championship contest.

That squad, coached by Robert “Butch” McElwee, lost to Arroyo Grande, 15-10, in the Northwest Division title game.

The 1987 team was inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame in 2015.

James chuckled when recalling one player he coached while at Burroughs, the man he will ultimately replace — Steven Hubbell.

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“I started the infancy of my educational career at Burbank Unified, and I’ve always been intrigued about returning,” James said.

Perhaps it’s fair to say James wasn’t entirely sold on the move until the interview process with members of Burbank High’s administration.

“The first thing that stood out to me was Tom Crowther,” James said of the school’s principal. “I felt very much appreciated and hope that continues and I live up to expectations.”

Crowther was equally excited about James’ impending arrival.

“He just comes across as a good person,” Crowther said. “He is extremely relatable and, on the interview panel, he just captured the room.”

Crowther added, “You look at his track record and he’s made an impact at every place he’s been. We feel very fortunate to have him.”

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