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Galt High principal to retire; other administrators retained

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Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004 10:00 pm

Taking advantage of a special retirement package, Galt High School Principal Larry Tosta will retire from the district June 30.

Tosta, one of 16 employees of the Galt Joint Union High School District to accept the retirement offer, has not performed his typical duties as principal since January, when he was assigned to research computer technology at the Sacramento County Office of Education office.

Tosta sued the school district in March, requesting that he be given his old job back.

Although he retains the title of principal, Tosta said in January he was ordered to turn in the keys to his office at Galt High.

Tosta would not discuss the latest developments Tuesday.

"I don't have any comment. Thank you," he said when contacted at his home Tuesday night.

Tosta's retirement, which was not announced publicly, was one of 16 retirements approved by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday. The retirements allowed the district to retain five school administrators who were given potential layoff notices in March, said Christine Hoffman, superintendent of the Galt Joint Union High School District.

Vice Principals Heather Hoyt, Diann Kitamura, Craig Murray and Jennifer Porter, and Tony Lara, principal of Estrellita Continuation High School, have been offered the same jobs for the next school year.

The announcement came more than an hour after Colleen Bartlett, a Galt High senior, gave the board a petition containing 203 signatures urging the board to retain the four vice principals.

"These are compassionate people," Bartlett said. "The students at Galt High School need these administrators."

One of the retirements approved by the board Tuesday was that of Mari Martinez, who took over as "lead administrator" at Galt High after Tosta was assigned to the county Office of Education.

However, Martinez said after the meeting she isn't sure if she'll retire in December after all.

Employees are taking advantage of a program through the State Teachers Retirement System, which allows employees to retire early, Hoffman said after the meeting. Employees get two years credit based on age and two years credit for years of service, she said.

In other action Tuesday, the board:

• Denied a tort claim filed by Acampo resident Art Oelsner over published statements made by board President Pat Maple and a statement by trustee Ben Cox Jr., at the March 9 board meeting that Oelsner insists defamed him.

• Heard a recommendation by active Galt resident Reuven Epstein to forego a school bond measure in November to build a second high school in Galt. Epstein said it's too late for the board to put together a bond in time for the June 2 deadline set by the Sacramento County Voter Registration and Elections Office.

The board will conduct a special meeting - probably May 19 - to discuss whether to pursue a bond election in November. Hoffman said she will firm up the meeting date later this week.

Epstein also urged the Galt High district to pursue joining forces with the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District to create a single district in Galt. Unifying the two districts would increase the chances of voters approving a bond to build a new high school, Epstein said.

• Agreed in closed session to a brief statement about what Tuesday's agenda described as "anticipated litigation" regarding an alleged violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, California's open-meeting law.

"The board will be mindful of the Brown Act in the future," Maple said with no elaboration.

Trustee Gary Silva Jr., accused three other trustees - Maple, Sue Roberts and Dennis Richardson - of discussing in closed session items that were not on the agenda and items not permitted by state law as closed-session topics. Cox was absent from March 9 closed session.

The board denied Oelsner's tort claim by a 4-0 vote Tuesday with Silva abstaining. Silva said he couldn't vote on the claim because he didn't receive a copy of it until 6:45 p.m., which is when Tuesday's open session began.

The claim was not included in back-up materials to the board agenda. However, the News-Sentinel received a copy of the claim Monday morning after filing a California Public Records Act request with the district.

A claim must be filed against a district and for the claim to be rejected in order for a lawsuit to be filed. Hoffman described the denial of the claim as a routine item that will be referred to the district's insurance company.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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