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Hurley leaves Palm Crest, LCHS gets new assistant principal as district seeks inclusion officer

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Palm Crest Elementary Principal Karen Hurley, left, leaves her post after nine years to become La Cañada Unified’s Director of Programs and Services effective July 1, while El Segundo High School’s Jason Ito has been appointed to serve as assistant principal of La Cañada High.
(File Photos / La Cañada Valley Sun)

In a recent administrative switch-up, La Cañada Unified officials have announced Palm Crest Elementary Principal Karen Hurley is taking a district-level position, while El Segundo High School teacher Jason Ito will become assistant principal at La Cañada High School.

During its regular meeting Tuesday, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board appointed Hurley director of programs and services effective July 1.

In her new position, Hurley will be responsible for coordinating programs, curriculum, technology, training and outreach relating to educational services. She will also evaluate school safety plans and serve as the district’s compliance officer.

Hurley leaves her post at Palm Crest after nine years at the helm, and will be earning the same annual salary of $145,582 in her new position.

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LCUSD Supt. Wendy Sinnette said the district will review candidates for the vacant principal position, and she hopes to have a recommendation by the board’s July 16 meeting.

“While I know PCR community will miss you greatly, I also think that we as a district are benefiting tremendously from taking that skill set and broadening it to the entire district,” school board member Ellen Multari told Hurley.

The board also welcomed Ito into the La Cañada High School community, where he will serve as a second assistant principal alongside Kristina Kalb.

Ito earned both his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree in teaching from USC and comes to LCHS from El Segundo High School, where he taught social science and served as department chair and a teacher on special assignment, working as an instructional technology lead and a basketball coach.

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The 35-year-old father of two attended Tuesday’s meeting with wife, Kacie, and daughters, Camille, 4, and 3-year-old Naomi. In his new position, Ito will earn an annual salary of $121,977, according to district figures.

Also Tuesday, board members agreed to advertise for a one-year independent services contract for a districtwide equity and inclusion officer to assess and develop diversity and inclusion programs across all schools.

Sinnette said the part-time position, budgeted at $55,000 to $95,000, will allow someone with expertise in a still-new field to work closely with her to create a needs assessment and advise the district on what next steps to take.

La Cañada parent Kim Hershman asked whether the inclusion officer would specifically look to diversify LCUSD’s own administrative team or simply advise on school programs. Sinnette said both options were possible.

“We want to be a completely inclusive environment,” the superintendent said. “If you look at the demographics of district level administration there’s probably some work to be done, but we need to have a targeted plan for that.”

Board members recommended Sinnette cast a wide net, advertising in industries beyond education.

“We really want someone with the expertise to tell us what we don’t know,” said board member Dan Jeffries.

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