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Lattig Takes Over As EHS Principal
Sometimes the best job opportunity happens when you aren't even looking.

Escalon High School Principal Jason Maggard - who served a memorable year in the post - unexpectedly tendered his resignation at the Tuesday night, Aug. 16 school board meeting, and the board moved Assistant Principal Dave Lattig into the role that same night.

For Maggard, the opportunity to work much closer to home came up late in the summer, and he took over as Human Resources Director for the Turlock Unified School District when there was a shuffling among the top posts there. He, his wife and their family live in Turlock.

Maggard, on hand for the Aug. 12 staff barbecue just before the start of the new school year at Escalon on Aug. 15, was fairly certain at that time he would be appointed at Turlock and leaving Escalon.

He admitted it was a very tough decision, that leaving EHS was bittersweet and that the year - one in which both the varsity football and baseball teams were state champions - is one he will always remember and he was proud to be a part of it.

"The community is so supportive," Maggard said. "Everyone has been great."

Whether it was turning out in droves for the rain-soaked state championship football game in southern California in mid-December or people making donations to the various student clubs on campus, he said Escalon always conveyed a real sense of community.

"They welcomed me in to that," he said.

With four young children - ranging in age from 18 months to six-years-old - at home, the lure of working in his "own backyard" was too great.

Lattig, meanwhile, had served three years as assistant principal at Escalon High and said he was shocked along with everyone else with the last-minute resignation, just as the school year was about to start.

But he, like the others, understood the logic behind the move and didn't begrudge Maggard the opportunity he seized.

"Opportunities arise and it's good for him to work closer to home," Lattig pointed out. "How can you fault a guy for wanting to spend more time with his family?"

Lattig first came to Escalon as a teacher, spending four years teaching World History and Psychology while also coaching JV girls basketball and JV football.

"Then I moved to Van Allen and Vista as principal for two years," Lattig said.

From there, he accepted the assistant principal assignment and was getting ready to start his fourth year. He has been with the district for over nine years. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in History from Stanislaus State and completed his Masters in Education at Chapman University.

"I'm not looking to climb ladders too quickly," Lattig noted. "I want to do the job I am in well.

"In this particular situation, a week ago I had no idea I would be sitting here."

Lattig said he was ready for another year in his assistant principal role but also felt, once Maggard's resignation was finalized, that it was his time to step up.

"I believe in this community," he said. "I moved my family here a couple of years ago, we live here. When this position came open unexpectedly, I had to step up, do what I felt was the right thing, to give back."

Lattig said he has enjoyed the various aspects of his career with Escalon so far and is looking forward to a new chapter.

"It's not about promotion or a title, it's about serving students," he said. "I truly see this as an opportunity to really give to the community, the students."

District Superintendent Ron Costa said Wednesday, the first day of school, was Maggard's last official day and Thursday, Aug. 18 was Lattig's first official day on the job.

Costa had been notified by Maggard on Aug. 11 that he was in line for the post at Turlock.

"After knowing that, I looked at what each of our options were," Costa explained. "I put a proposal to the board for their approval that we move Dave up to principal, based on his experience, his dedication to both the (high) school and the district."

An interim assistant principal has also been approved by the board, with Joe Terra coming in to fill the post while a search is under way for Lattig's successor.

"He's a retired administrator from the Newman-Crows Landing School District," Costa said of Terra. "He's a local resident."

The search for Lattig's replacement is two-pronged.

"We're going to post it in-house first," Costa explained. "We want to see if we have any viable candidates in house. The second plan would be to go outside the district if we don't get interest or viable candidates here."

Costa said they wished Maggard well and weren't entirely surprised by the move.

"One thing that I believe in, you find the very best people to do the job," he said. "Some will move on, some will stay ... we don't go out just to fill a position, we go out to find the best."

Lattig - who has four children in Escalon schools, three at Van Allen Elementary and one at El Portal Middle School - is ready to get started.

"The goal for this year is to keep moving forward ... we're all centered on student achievement and we have great leadership at the district level, I'm honored to be a part of it," Lattig said. "I'm very, very humbled by the support. I consider it as a privilege to be able to serve in this way."