3 longtime Analy High School administrators to leave district

Three female administrators who shepherded Analy High School in Sebastopol through tumultuous times over the last several years have announced their resignations and are taking positions at other schools.|

Three female administrators who shepherded Analy High School in Sebastopol through tumultuous times over the last several years have announced their resignations and are taking positions at other schools.

The departures of Analy Principal Shauna Ferdinandson and vice principals Erin Elliott and Rachel Lasek come after they led the school through the controversial consolidation with El Molino High, a failed attempt at rebranding, a teachers’ strike, multiple fires and the pandemic.

“At this point, I am going to refrain from commenting except that I am serving as Analy's principal until June 30, 2023,” Ferdinandson said in an email.

West Sonoma County Union High School District’s Superintendent Chris Meredith wished them the best, but deflected questions on any issues the administrators might have had prior to their resignations.

“I have heard that some of those who will be leaving are publicly expressing frustration with my leadership style,” Meredith said in an email. “And while I will not discuss specific personnel situations, in general, I want to encourage all members of our staff to reach out if they ever have an employment concern so that it may be addressed promptly and responsibly.”

The three leaders have accepted positions at neighboring school districts, confirmed Julie Aiello, board president of West Sonoma County Union High School District. They all begin in July.

Joseph Steinberg, 17, a junior at Analy, said the news came as a total shock when his friend Eli McElroy, 17, had told him minutes before a Press Democrat interview.

“Miss Ferdinandson is like a cornerpiece to our school and it’s going to be really strange without her,” Steinberg said. “Throughout all of the hardships, she’s been a really strong leader.”

Both students called for more transparency over administrative changes, saying none of the student body or parents had been alerted as of Monday afternoon.

“When there’s instability at the top, it shakes things all the way down,” McElroy said, noting that the revolving door of teachers and administrators in the past few years has caused confusion and stress among staff and students.

Ferdinandson started at the district in 2000 as an English teacher and in 2021 became principal of the school, which had just been renamed West County High School in an attempt to rebrand it after its merger with El Molino High School.

On Friday, an email to parents by Cloverdale Unified School District’s new superintendent, Steve Jorgensen, announced Ferdinandson will be the next principal at Washington Middle School.

Elliott, who was Analy’s vice principal since 2019, will start as Apple Blossom Elementary School’s new principal on July 1 in the Twin Hills Union School District in Sebastopol, said their Superintendent Anna-Maria Guzman.

Lasek, Analy’s vice principal since 2021, will begin as vice principal and curriculum director at both Park Side School and Brook Haven Middle School in Sebastopol on July 1, said Sebastopol Union School District Superintendent Linda Irving.

The West Sonoma County Union High School District is deeply grateful for their "tireless effort and energy they have given to our entire school community,“ Aiello said, adding that the board wishes them the best in their endeavors.

“We appreciate their leadership implementing the positive improvements that are happening at our high schools,“ Aiello said.

Aiello added the district will “continue this positive trajectory with improved communication and inclusion” through new programs, increasing student and family engagement and renewing community support.

In Fall 2021, the Analy High School and El Molino High School consolidated to address a growing budget deficit, which the district blamed on declining enrollment and not enough state funding to meet costs of both schools.

In Winter 2021, the district’s attempt to rebrand the two schools into West County High School failed after strong opposition from parents and alumni who wished to keep the school’s legacy.

The Sebastopol school has 1,466 students enrolled this year, according to the California Department of Education.

“Leadership changes can be challenging and unsettling,” Aiello said. “I want to assure our school community that we will manage these transitions with a commitment to protect the wonderful educational climate that exists, and continues to grow, at our schools.“

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8531 or alana.minkler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @alana_minkler.

Alana Minkler

Education Reporter

The world is filled with stories that inspire compassion, wonder, laughs and even tears. As a Press Democrat reporter covering education, it’s my goal to give others a voice to share these stories.

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