Former Juan Cabrillo principal and interim MHS principal Patricia Cairns took over as interim principal of Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and Point Dume Marine Science School on Monday, April 22—less than two months before the end of the 2018-19 school year.

The change is the latest in what has shaped up to be a tumultuous year in leadership among the two elementary schools, which are soon to be combined for the next school year.

Dr. Pamela Herkner, who previously served as the six-year principal of Juan Cabrillo, was tapped to head both schools last August. To facilitate the change, Phil Cott (former Webster Elementary School principal) and Alan Friedenberg (former Grant Elementary School principal) were brought on to serve as interim co-principals through the end of 2018. 

In January, Julie Siegel, a specialized academic instruction teacher at Juan Cabrillo, took over as assistant principal over the two schools. A newsletter that went out to parents last August detailed that Siegel would oversee Juan Cabrillo as Herkner focused on PDMSS.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati then announced Herkner’s retirement at the end of the 2018-19 school year in a statement dated March 15.

This month, Drati shared that Dave Jackson—who served as interim principal of Malibu High School during the 2014-15 school year—assisted with “leadership and day to day operations” at the elementary schools.

“He stepped in at a challenging time during the aftermath of the fires and a rainy season that brought a lot of insecurity to the community,” Drati wrote in a statement shared with The Malibu Times. “His last day of service was the Friday before spring break as he reached the limited amount of time a retired principal can serve.”

It is unclear what role Herkner now plays in the elementary schools’ leadership. In the statement, Drati wrote she and Malibu Pathways Director Isaac Burgess IV are “engaged in a series of collaborative meetings with staff on Fridays during early release to align the academic and instructional foci of the schools and build team.”

As for next year’s merged Juan Cabrillo-Point Dume school principal, a candidate has been selected and will be announced before the SMMUSD board of education at its May 2 meeting for approval. The school’s name, colors and mascot have yet to be formally announced following backlash from Malibu community members last month.

Editor's note: This brief has been updated to clarify the year Dave Jackson served as interim principal at Malibu High School.

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