There are seven schools in the Oak Park Unified School District. This fall, most of them will have new principals.
Starting July 1, Red Oak Elementary, Brookside Elementary,
Oak View High and Oak Park Independent schools will be under new leadership. The high school and independent school share a principal.
Tony Knight, Oak Park Unified’s superintendent, said it’s the first time in the district’s more than 40-year history that three principals have been hired at once.
“I think we’ve had two in a given year,” Knight said. “It’s been a real big effort in terms of the search and interviewing. We use a very inclusive process that involves everybody (across the district). It’s been a lot of work this spring.”
Knight said he knew ahead of time that the former principals were stepping down so he had plenty of time to search for their replacements.
The district moved two of the former principals to other administrative positions and the third decided to retire.
The district used an online, statewide program called Edjoin to search for replacements. Candidates were interviewed in by a panel of 20 people.
“We had some really fine candidates. I was really impressed with the quality of people we had applying,” Knight said. “These people just rose to the top. They were actually pretty easy to choose because everybody really liked them. We had panels of teachers, administrators and parents, and it was unanimous for all of them, for the people selected.”
The new hires will start July 1. Knight said it is standard practice for administrators to start work in the summer as contracts run from July 1 to June 30.
Despite the administrative overhaul, Knight said, he’s excited about the new additions to the district.
“It’s three new people coming in. They’re lovely people,” Knight said. “I said at the board meeting when we had some of the (new hires), I welcomed them to the district and I said, ‘You’re coming to a really healthy, happy place.’ We’re happy to have them as part of our team.”
Stacy La Frenz
Stacy La Frenz is replacing Jon Duim, who is retiring, as the principal of Red Oak Elementary School. La Frenz taught third and fifth grades at Willow Elementary School in Agoura Hills for 19 years.
She’s been the assistant principal of Tierra Linda Elementary School in Camarillo since 2016.
Kent Cromwell is the new principal of Oak View High and Oak Park Independent schools. He taught science and physical education for 11 years and spent another 11 years as an administrator.
Cromwell was the principal of Brook Haven Middle School and Laguna High School in Sebastopol, and San Miguel Elementary School in Santa Rosa. He’s replacing Stewart McGugan, who was appointed the district’s new director of student support and school safety.
Erin Vranesh has 11 years of experience teaching elementary school, covering kindergarten through third grade.
Her new position as the principal of Brookside Elementary School won’t hold many surprises— Vranesh spent two years as elementary assistant principal and two years as elementary principal in the Paradise Valley Unified School District in Arizona.
She is replacing Sara Ahl, who was appointed to head the district’s new after-school program.