Venice High Has a New Principal

Following a six-month search that cast a wide net for community input on several candidates, LAUSD has selected Basset High School Principal Gabriel Griego to succeed Dr. Oryla Wiedoeft as principal of Venice High School, The Argonaut has learned.

“It’s an honor to be selected to be the new principal at Venice High School. I think it’s a great school, and I want to keep their trend of high tests scores moving in the right direction,” said Griego, who starts with the new school year in August. “Student achievement will always be my No. 1 goal.”

Griego has been in charge of Basset High in La Puente since 2014, taking that job after a probe into alleged questionable hiring practices and workplace harassment led to the reassignment and layoffs of several school district administrators.

He and two other finalists visited Venice High last month to speak to parents, faculty and community members as part of the LAUSD evaluation process.

LAUSD Local District Superintendent Cheryl Hildreth, who made the decision to hire Griego, said all three candidates were very qualified but Griego’s experience at the high school level moved him to the top of the list.

“I think that what he will bring to Venice will be not only the passion of instruction, but being a principal already will allow him to come and accelerate what’s already happening here with regard to student learning and achievement,” said Hildreth.

Griego said he isn’t relocating from his home in West Covina to the Westside just yet.

“Maybe after I retire I’ll move to the beach,” he said with a laugh.

— Gary Walker

Disabled Worker Sues Marina Marketplace

An AMC Dine-In Theatres Marina 6 employee with cerebral palsy is taking Villa Marina Marketplace to court, hoping to force the outdoor shopping mall to fix an elevator that has allegedly been broken for more than a year.

Todd Williamson, 47, and attorney V. James DeSimone were expected to announce the civil rights lawsuit at a press conference on Wednesday.

DeSimone was the attorney for the family of Brendon Glenn, the homeless man fatally shot by an LAPD officer near the Venice Boardwalk on May 5, 2015.The Los Angeles City Council settled with Glenn’s family for $4 million in 2016.

According to a statement by DeSimone, the broken elevator leaves Williamson trapped at work during lunch and work breaks. Walking from one end of the mall to the other takes the disabled greeter and ticket-taker about 12 minutes, meaning there’s no way he can make the round trip and return to work on time.

“Defendant’s failure to treat Mr. Williamson on an equal basis caused Mr. Williamson physical hardship and suffering, and significant emotional distress, including humiliation and monetary loss,” states the 11-page complaint.

DeSimone is seeking unstated compensatory damages and a jury trial.

— Gary Walker

Halibut Derby Returns to Marina del Rey … without Miss Halibut

Last year’s Halibut Derby winner Reggie Beauvais poses with his 27.8-pound catch and Miss Halibut 2017 Krystyn Lambert

This weekend the Marina del Rey Anglers host their 43rd annual Halibut Derby, a fishing tournament that raises funds for the nonprofit’s white sea bass restoration program, youth fishing education program and veteran’s fishing trips.

The Anglers host free fishing seminars from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday (May 31 and June 1) at Burton Chace Park, where derby participants weigh their catches at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (June 2 and 3).

Weigh-ins happen daily so that anglers can return their catches to the sea — about 90% of fish caught during last year’s derby were released, and those who release their catch get a 20% weigh-in bonus, said Anglers board member Bruce Williams.

Last year’s grand-prize winner caught a 27.8-pound halibut. The largest catch in recent memory was a 48.8-pound halibut in 2012.

The event tends to draw between 100 and 200 participants and last year raised about $20,000 through entry fees ($85 this year), raffle ticket purchases and event sponsorships, Williams said. The angler with the biggest catch wins a fishing trip to Alaska.

Responding to more diverse participation, there will be prizes for the top female, youth and kayak anglers, while the ceremonial presence of Miss Halibut — typically a young woman in a bathing suit who poses for photos with the winner and his catch — is on hiatus, new board members having elected to pause that tradition, Williams said.

— Joe Piasecki

Wounded Veterans Begin 1,000-Mile Trek

An international team of six wounded military veterans will depart from the Dockweiler State Beach on Saturday to begin a 1,000-mile walk to raise awareness and funding for those suffering from physical or mental injuries of war.

Convened by the British nonprofit Walking with the Wounded under the patronage of Afghanistan combat veteran Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, the Walk of America pairs a Marine, Army National Guardsman and Air Force sergeant with three members of the British armed services on behalf of charities in both countries.

Participating veterans plan to meet with well-wishers and tell their stories from 9 and 10 a.m. Saturday (June 2) at the Dockweiler Youth Center (12505 Vista Del Mar, Playa del Rey) before departing toward San Diego. Actor Scott Eastwood, son of Clint Eastwood, will deliver opening remarks.

— Joe Piasecki