Jim Goddard, principal of Santa Rosa High School, has been reassigned to a position in the district office. His last day as principal at the Mendocino Avenue campus is Friday.
He will begin as "principal on special assignment" Monday at the district's Ridgway Avenue offices. The announcement was made to Santa Rosa's teachers Wednesday afternoon.
"We will be starting our search immediately to find someone new," Superintendent Sharon Liddell said.
Goddard said the move was not his idea.
"I was asked to accept the position and I did," he said after the meeting.
Superintendent Sharon Liddell would not elaborate on reasons for the reassignment. "The taking of this position is not a demotion," Liddell said.
But veteran teachers at the school described the relationship between staff and students and Goddard as strained from the start.
Goddard, who was in his third year as principal, encountered controversies almost from the beginning. They included teacher dismissals that were subsequently reversed, elimination of a popular woodshop program that was later saved and preferential parking places for students who scored well on state exams.
"I'm glad he's gone because I think he's a detriment to the school," said John Cortopassi, a history instructor at Santa Rosa and teachers' union representative.
"He immediately lost the faith of the staff because of his lack of candor. No one really trusted what he had to say," Cortopassi said.
But Goddard said that many teachers wished him well after learning the news.
He was "disappointed" to be leaving Santa Rosa after slightly more than two years at the helm. He was first approached by district officials about the move two or three weeks ago, he said.
"I'm an at-will employee," he said. "They can move me however they see fit and what is best for the district."
Goddard will keep his current $120,000 salary in the new position.
Retired principal Sue Sion will take over Monday as interim principal. Information on her salary was not available Wednesday.
Teachers and students questioned the timing of the change — and the cost of both retaining Goddard on the cash-strapped district's payroll and paying for a replacement principal.
"I'm just wondering where this mystery money is coming from," said Santa Rosa senior Logan Davis. "I want to know where that money was when they were cutting woodshop or when they were increasing class sizes."
Others said the timing of the move is particularly questionable because the district on Friday is expected to unveil a list of potential cuts the school board is expected to use as its road map to hack about $5.6 million from its budget.
"Everybody was amazed at the timing," said teacher Andy Brennan.
"I think it shows a lack of leadership in the district office. They have to have known since last spring that they were discontented with him," Cortopassi said. "If they had the inclination to get rid of him and they didn't pull the trigger, it's a horrible waste of money."
Goddard took over in 2007. He replaced Tony Negri who had been at the school as either a teacher or principal for nearly 40 years.
Stepping in directly after the Negri's retirement was difficult, he said.
"His shadows are imbedded into the walls and coming into that type of situation is difficult," he said.