Father Allen DeLong, who onceBy Mary Adamski
taught on Maui, expects to be
on the job by the first
week of August
Father Allen DeLong, a professional educator from the Marianist religious order, was named president of St. Louis School today, filling a vacancy created in November when the previous top administrator was fired.
The appointment of DeLong, 68, is effective immediately. He expects to be on the job by the end of the first week of August. He will spend the next couple of weeks making the transition from his current job as vocation director of the Marianist Order's Province of the Pacific in Cupertino, Calif.
DeLong was chosen by the 20-member board of trustees from among four Marianist applicants to head St. Louis, which has a faculty of 65 and a student body of 800 in grades 6 through 12.
DeLong began his teaching career at St. Anthony High School on Maui, where he taught mathematics and physics from 1956-1959.
He also served on the faculty of San Francisco's Riordan High School, was the first principal of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., and was president of Chaminade College Preparatory in West Hills, Calif.
He has a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., a master's degree in educational administration from the University of San Francisco and a master's of divinity in theology from St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto.
The trustees fired his predecessor in November. The Rev. Mario Pariante, 45, was dismissed six months before his three-year contract ended. The board said Pariante "has not lived up to the standards of leadership and administrative skills as set by the board."
The board's dismissal of Pariante stirred a controversy that still echoes among his supporters and critics. Pariante supporters have characterized it as fallout from a struggle to emphasize academics over athletics, with Pariante clashing with the school's athletic director and football coach, Cal Lee. Pariante suspended some team members and forfeited a game after players damaged a Las Vegas hotel room on a September 1998 staff-supervised road trip.
Board Chairman Walter Kirimitsu said at the time of Pariante's firing that the decision had nothing to do with athletics or football.
The Catholic school has a high profile in the community in part because of its winning football team, which has been nationally ranked on a regular basis.
"People have greater expectations of a Catholic school," said Marianist Brother Edward Gomez, 62, interim president since January. "If it is somebody from another school, it goes unheeded."
Gomez, a St. Louis graduate with more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator in Marianist schools, will continue in his role as vice president of the Hawaii Marianist Center, the landlord corporation for St. Louis and Chaminade University. The Catholic boys school was founded 154 years ago by the Marianist order.
The school's bylaws require that the president first be sought among Marianists worldwide and, next, among other Catholic religious orders, before the search could be widened to take lay applicants.
Although the school was incorporated in recent years and put under direction of 20 trustees who are mostly lay people, the religious order's hand print is evident. The trustees' choice of president required approval from directors of the Marianist Center of Hawaii, who include Gomez, the head of the Marianist Province of the Pacific and other members of the order, in addition to Kirimitsu.
An indication that the debate set off by Pariante's dismissal still rages was seen in the June edition of the St. Louis Alumni Association News. Alumni President James S. Burns wrote "If you believe that Father Mario was a competent leader and that it was his desire to emphasize academics over athletics that led to his exit, you are wrong."
Burns, chief judge of the state appellate court, represents the alumni association on the board of trustees. He also wrote: "It was the desire to have a Marianist as the head of SLS that caused the board to accept the application of Father Mario as president. Clearly the decision was a big mistake."
The Rev. John Russi, head of the Marianist Pacific Province, and Pariante's predecessor as St. Louis president, said in May that Pariante had moved to California and accepted a non-administrative job in a Catholic school.