Trustees welcome D'Agostino to new job

Newport-Mesa Unified School District trustees welcomed outgoing Costa Mesa High School Principal Phil D'Agostino to his new position as director of student services during their meeting Tuesday night.

The 15-year Newport-Mesa employee will assume his new role as head of discipline for the district after spring break, said district spokeswoman Laura Boss.

D'Agostino thanked the board for the opportunity to serve the district in his new position.

"A very dear friend of mine said the universe puts you in places so you can learn something and grow," he said. "I think I know what the district wants and what the district is looking for."

He is replacing former director of student services Jane Garland, who resigned in February after she accused district administrators of mishandling the cheating scandal at Corona del Mar High School.

One of the district's goals this year is to implement a restorative justice form of discipline and train staff on how to use it. Restorative justice focuses on helping students develop empathy, understand the reasons for their actions and take responsibility for wrongdoing.

D'Agostino became Mesa's principal in 2010. Before that, he was principal at Estancia High School for four years, assistant principal at Estancia for eight weeks and a teacher at Newport Harbor High School for seven years.

D'Agostino has helped to elevate the standards at Mesa during his time leading the high school, said Trustee Katrina Foley.

"I will greatly miss him on the Costa Mesa High School campus," she said. "He's a great collaborator and has great skills in understanding the needs of students and knowing when the appropriate discipline is necessary."

Although plans to select a new principal for Mesa are still being finalized, Costa Mesa Middle School Principal Aaron Peralta will take over in the interim, Boss said in a previous interview.

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