BREAKING NEWS: Principal Mr. Justin Cutts accepts Yuba City Unified School District job offer, will not return next school year


In the main office, principal’s secretary Mrs. Tamara Fernandes and principal Mr. Justin Cutts discuss upcoming meetings and deadlines. Photo by Sofia McMaster

After serving six years as principal on campus, Mr. Justin Cutts will be leaving his position to take a new role as Director of Student Services in the Yuba City Unified School District (YCUSD). Cutts’ contract begins July 1 and he expects to start mid-July. 

“The job was posted about two months ago, so I interviewed for the first time two weeks ago, had a follow-up the next week and then I was offered the job,” Cutts said. “The district does the offer but the school board does the official approval, which didn’t happen until last night. I applied for the position because I was looking for a new challenge, but I felt like it was time to take on something new and with lots of impact.”

The position will allow Cutts to expand his oversight in student education from one to 18 schools in the YCUSD. 

“At a district office, there’s a superintendent, as well as assistant superintendents of different departments such as Human Resources, Education, Finance/Business,” Cutts said. “Under that you have directors that have specific roles; mine will encompass the three main pieces: athletics, discipline and safety. For athletics, it’s primarily Yuba City High School and River Valley High School and their junior highs, but the safety aspect is all of the schools.”

Throughout his time here, Cutts reflects on the development of the school and its educational opportunities. 

“We made huge improvements, one in terms of offering students Dual Enrollment credits and offering those options to students. Now you can graduate with 24 college credits, when I got here there were zero,” Cutts said. “All of our pathways are now three levels and include a lot of industry standards and credentialed teachers. Our staff is much more diverse; a lot of students used to say ‘There’s nobody that looks like me here that’s an adult,’ but that’s totally not the same today, so I’m really proud of that.”

Last night, Cutts announced his upcoming departure in an all-staff email, evoking both shock and pride. Principal’s secretary Mrs. Tamara Fernandes, who has been working closely alongside Cutts for the last five years, is one of the most impacted by the decision.

“Mr. Cutts is a dear friend of mine, and I’m happy that he has been my colleague and teammate. I’m happy for this new opportunity for him, as he is seeking a promotion outside of this district to help create more change for students. Working with Cutts as my direct supervisor has been amazing, I think we’re a great team, and we have that good ebb and flow,” Fernandes said. 

As for the upcoming school year, Fernandes looks forward to working with the next principal.

“I am excited to see who my next direct supervisor will be, and I know that we are going to make the best new decision for the next new principal. I’m a pretty easy-going person and I’m sure we are going to make a great new team next year,” Fernandes said. “I feel like there’s always room for growth and innovation and sometimes bringing in a new perspective from the outside or even someone from the inside can create different changes and outcomes for the better, I’m excited to see that happen.”

Assistant Principal Mrs. Jennifer Hanks also has worked closely with Cutts and acknowledges his impact.

“[Cutts] and I will maintain a personal and professional relationship. As far as him being principal and me being assistant principal for 6 years, Mr. Cutts is so supportive and you always know he’ll have your back, so I’ll miss that support and encouragement. Whitney is family, it’s just what we are; any time anyone moves on, you’re happy for them, but then you’re like ‘Aw, we’re losing somebody’,” Hanks said.

Staff members have begun asking which, if any, current administrators will apply for the position. Hanks declined to comment. Assistant Principal Mr. Jeff Dietrich said he may consider applying, although he is sorry to see his friend and colleague leave for another opportunity.

“As for applying for the position, I’m going through a mental process right now with myself and with my family, especially with an eight-month-old baby. I don’t know if it’s the right time for me, and it will take a lot of discussion with my wife, but Whitney is a great school and deserves someone who is the right fit,” Dietrich said. 

Though the selection and application process of the next principal is not yet publicized, Whitney High Student Media will continue to report on the story as news develops.

Hanks said, “I hope [the next principal] is somebody who encourages growth of our culture on campus and the things that we’re striving to do better, as we focus on how we move past online and distance relationships. There’s so much more that this school can become, not that we’re in a bad place, but I just hope that the next person continues to elevate it.”