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Dennis Crandall to step down as principal of Archbishop Hanna High

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Longtime Archbishop Hanna High School Principal Dennis Crandall will leave his post this summer after 14 years as head of the education wing of Hanna Boys Center.

Crandall, 67, will transition to a role in the development department at Hanna Boys Center, school officials announced Thursday.

A search for a new principal is expected to get underway later this month.

“I have poured my heart and soul into our school these past 14 years,” said Crandall in a press release. “And it will always be near and dear to me.” Crandall described it as “the right time for me to step aside and let others lead the school.”

Crandall said fundraising is the platform from which he could make the greatest impact on Hanna Boys Center.

In a phone conversation on Thursday, Crandall explained that Hanna is gearing up for a major capital campaign for funds to build a new school campus.

“I want to be a part of the process,” he said. “I am excited to shift gears and to do new work and I think I can really help in this area.”

Crandall stressed that he is not retiring and that he will work full time in the development office.

Hanna Boys Center director Brian Farragher described Crandall’s leadership as “nothing short of extraordinary.”

“We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for what he’s done,” said Farragher. “At the same time, I’m enthusiastic about his new role in our fundraising group. He brings a wealth of experience, and I think is uniquely positioned to engage with our donors, many with whom he already has strong relationships.”

As principal, Crandall is credited with restructuring the high school’s curriculum to serve a larger and more diverse student population, adding college prep and online accredited classes, and fostering greater day student opportunities for those youth who need specialized school assistance but don’t need Hanna’s residential-treatment component.

During his tenure, the high school also developed organic gardens and orchard programs; a viticulture program which provides vocational training; and a wilderness and outdoor education program.

Prior to coming to Hanna Boys Center, Crandall spent more than 30 years at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, serving as a teacher, development director, coach, athletic director, assistant principal and finally as principal.

Tullus Miller, the chair of Hanna’s board of directors, said he was “a little sad,” but supports Crandall’s decision.

“I know that everyone — including me — will sorely miss having him at the helm of our school,” said Miller. “His leadership these many years has been authentic, charismatic and rock solid.”

It has been a tumultuous few years for Hanna Boys Center. The California Department of Social Services announced in December that it is seeking a court order to revoke Hanna’s license to operate as a group home in the wake of multiple accusations of client abuse. A lawsuit filed last September against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa alleges that there were numerous sexual encounters between a former staffmember and one of the boys, a relationship, the suit alleges, which Hanna officials either knew about or, at the very least, suspected.

Meanwhile, last May, Hanna was faced with a whistleblower lawsuit by a former clinical director who claims he was fired by Farragher in a retaliatory move after voicing concerns over unabated bullying among some of the Hanna boys dating back to 2014.

Contact Lorna at lorna.sheridan@sonomanews.com.