The principal of the Catholic high school serving the embattled Hanna Boys Center is stepping down to assume a fundraising role within the organization, officials said Friday.

Dennis Crandall, 67, will leave the school in August after 13 years as the top administrator, said Brian Farragher, chief executive officer of the Sonoma Valley facility.

Crandall, who was formerly principal at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, will move into development, helping to secure donations for planned capital improvements to the Arnold Drive campus, Farragher said.

“With that on the horizon I feel he’s the perfect guy to message that and move it forward,” Farragher said.

Crandall was offered the new job after talking with Farragher about it over the past few years, Crandall said. He was not asked to step down, both men said.

“This is a positive thing,” Crandall said Friday. “I wasn’t forced out or any of that. Right now, I feel this is the best way to help Hanna Boys Center.”

The move comes after more than a year of controversy at the 73-year-old institution for troubled teens that is threatened with closure.

Its former clinical director, Kevin Thorpe, 40, of Rohnert Park, was arrested in June and has been charged with molesting four boys. He remains in jail awaiting a Feb. 22 preliminary hearing.

Another employee was fired after reports that she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 17-year-old boy.

And Thorpe’s predecessor, 31-year-employee Timothy Norman, filed a whistleblower lawsuit, alleging he was wrongly fired for complaining about a lack of supervision over minors involved in bullying. That case is ongoing.

Recently, the Community Care Licensing Division of the Department of Social Services began license revocation proceedings against Hanna. An administrative hearing is set for May 21, said Michael Weston, department spokesman.

Farragher acknowledged lapses but said Hanna will fight to continue operating. He has filed a statement of corrective actions he’s taken to “ensure our kids are safe and protected.”

The change atop the high school had nothing to do with Hanna’s recent troubles and is not part of any house cleaning, he said. Crandall was not a central figure in any of the allegations, Farragher said.

“He’s a wonderful guy and a great educator for 40-plus years,” Farragher said. “The one concern I have is this not be seen as anything but a positive reflection on him. I want to keep him in the organization.”

Hanna currently serves 90 boys in grades 8 through 12.

You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.

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