District announces new Paly, Gunn principals pending board approval

Amy Yu, Editor-in-Chief

Pending board approval, Brent Kline is set to be the Palo Alto High School Principal for the 2020-2021 school year. According to the press release, Kline has a passion for being a high school principal and is thrilled to be joining the Palo Alto community. Photo courtesy of PAUSD.

Palo Alto Unified School District announced the new principals at Palo Alto High School and Henry M. Gunn High School for the 2020-2021 school year, in a press release sent to the staff at both high schools at 10 a.m. today.

Pending board approval on March 17, Brent Kline and Wendy Stratton will assume the role of principal of Paly and Gunn, respectively, starting July 1.

According to the press release, Kline, who will be taking over for current Paly principal Adam Paulson, is currently the principal at Santa Cruz High School and has over 15 years of experience as a high school principal in California and Washington state.

According to the press release, Kline will focus on professional development, aligning curriculum, instruction and assessment practices and “engaging the community and parents to support students holistically” in the coming school year.

Kline has won various awards including the Western Association of Secondary Administrators Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008, Western Scholastic Conference Distinguished Principal Award in 2008 and 2012, as well as Washington State High School Principal of the Year in 2013.

According to Superintendent Don Austin, Kline is a veteran high school principal who has a complete understanding of complex organizations.

Wendy Stratton, a current assistant principal at Palo Alto High School, will be Henry M. Gunn High School’s principal for the 2020-2021 school year, pending board approval. According to the press release, Stratton “looks forward to establishing purposeful partnerships with all stakeholders” at Gunn in the coming year. Photo: Amy Yu

“Brent is recognized as one of the top high school principals in the nation and will immediately hit the ground running,” Austin stated in the press release.

Like Kline, Stratton was also chosen from a pool of fierce competitors, according to Austin.

Stratton, who became an assistant principal the 2019-2020 school year, will be replacing current Gunn Principal Kathie Laurence. Before coming into the district, Stratton was an Assistant Principal at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley for five years.

According to the press release, Stratton’s leadership approach is based on equity, and she is “motivated to participate in an inclusive community where students and adults are committed to continuous improvement.”

Austin stated that Stratton’s selection represents a continuation of the district’s effort to “promote qualified and passionate” candidates already in the district.

“Her dedication to equity work, attention to detail, competitive personal nature and desire to invest deeply in PAUSD are attributes we value highly,” Austin stated in the press release.

According to the press release, the district is looking forward to welcoming the principals and the value that they bring to the two high schools.

“We are fortunate to find two exceptional and proven leaders to take the reins of our high schools,” Austin said. “The competition for the positions was fierce, as we expected for the principalships of two highly-regarded institutions.”