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Editor’s note: This is a developing story. San Clemente Times will provide more details as they become available.
By Eric Heinz
A letter from the Capistrano Unified School District sent to the San Clemente Times on Thursday stated former San Clemente High School principal Michael Halt had declined an “offer of employment ” from CUSD. The letter was sent on behalf of Julie Hatchel, assistant superintendent, communications and public relations, and signed by district Superintendent Kristen Vital.
“While Mr. Halt has declined the district’s offer of employment, we are glad he will be part of the graduation ceremony and this special time for the students,” the letter stated.
The letter also stated Halt would be at graduation ceremonies on Friday to congratulate students as they walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas.
Emails from San Clemente High School parents and community members continued to pour in since Monday, asking CUSD allow Halt to preside over graduation ceremonies, taking place 4 p.m. Friday at the school.
The negotiation offers and reasons why Halt has reportedly declined offers of alternative employment were not mentioned in the letter.
Since the beginning of the week, the SC Times has received dozens of letter from parents and people asking the district to have Halt officiate the graduation ceremonies.
“As a resident of CUSD communities we formally demand that Mike Halt conduct the Graduation this Friday at San Clemente High School,” Shay Arnett wrote in a letter to the district and also forwarded to the SC Times on Wednesday. “If you reject this we demand that you provide a legal basis for this rejection. Note that any failure to comply with this demand will be seen as a failure to perform your public duty.”
There are at least 75 more emails that echo this sentiment. Most of the letters also demand legal basis of a decision from the district and Vital should CUSD not allow Halt to preside over the Friday ceremonies.
In a telephone interview with Halt on Wednesday, he told SC Times he would be part of the graduation ceremonies in the role that was “most appropriate” for him. At the time, he did not mention anything regarding his status with the district.
On Friday, Newport-Mesa Unified School District announced Halt had been selected as principal of Estancia High School, and his hiring will be recommended for approval to the district’s board of education at the next regular Board meeting on Tuesday, June 23.
“Details of Mr. Halt’s transition are still being finalized,” a press release from the district stated. “It is anticipated he will begin with NMUSD on July 1.”
Halt was ousted as principal of SCHS about two months ago amid foggy details as to why he was fired.
Halt was contacted for comment Thursday afternoon and has not yet responded. CUSD officials were contacted after the letter was sent to SC Times, but they could not be reached.