New schools official named

Patricia Hager will step in as the assistant superintendent of human resources in La Cañada Unified for 2011-2012 when Wendy Sinnette abandons that position to take over as superintendent at the departure of Jim Stratton, who retires at the end of this school year.

Hager, who has served as principal at Whitney High in Cerritos for the past nine years, was unanimously approved by LCUSD’s five-member Governing Board at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

“I am very excited,” said Hager. “I am looking forward to working with Wendy and the new team. We have a lot of work to do.”

Hager comes on board with a background in human resources, having served on the ABC Unified School District’s negotiations teams and health and benefits committee, Sinnette said.

“She was clearly distinguished — her intelligence, her work ethic, poise and leadership skills were all qualities we thought were a match for La Cañada,” Sinnette said. “We look forward to welcoming her into the cabinet.”

LCUSD has had to shuffle its deck a bit after Stratton announced in January his plans to retire. Sinnette said the search, selection and interview process was “extensive.”

Thirty candidates for the assistant superintendent position were invited to two panels hosted by the district on April 20. The field was whittled down to eight, then to three and finally to one.

Hager’s nine years of experience as a principal at Whitney High, a California Distinguished and National Blue Ribbon School that serves grades 7-12, will serve her well in La Cañada, Sinnette said.

“There will be a learning curve, obviously, with the culture in new environment, new faces and new issues; but I did have some experience with some of these things, so I think I’ll be fine. Wendy will be a good guide,” Hager said.

“There was no doubt Patty rose above all of the other candidates,” said Governing Board President Susan Boyd after serving on one of those panels.

School board member Scott Tracy also served on one of Hager’s interview panels and also thought she stood out from the others.

“There was only one finalist for us and that was you,” Tracy told her. “Just the fact you have this great familiarity with high-performing schools, the 7-12 concept and you know what it’s like working on a very lean, lean staff — it just says to me that you're going to make a great, great addition to our staff.”

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