Critics launch petition against Encinitas school name change

Sunset High School principal floats idea to San Dieguito district trustees as work begins on new campus


Demolition crews take down buildings in early July at Sunset High School in Encinitas. The campus is being fully rebuilt. (San Dieguito Union High School District project photo)

North Coast Current

Sunset High School alumni and members of the community have launched an online petition calling on the San Dieguito Union High School District to keep the continuation school’s name.

The petition, which had gained 106 signatures as of 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17, was launched in reaction to Principal Rick Ayala’s call to change the name of the Encinitas school as it prepares for an entirely new campus. The school was razed over the summer in preparation for the updated facilities.

“For some reason, there has been a negative perception from the outside community that comes with the Sunset brand,” Ayala, who became principal 11 years ago, told district trustees at their June 20 meeting.

The “Save Sunset High School” petition, which seeks 1,000 signatures, surfaced after the possible renaming circulated on social media over the past several weeks.

“A group of alumni, former staff, and community members are asking for you to speak up and say to the school board that you are OPPOSED to this name change,” the organizers state on the petition’s website.

The petition centers on three issues, according to the site:

■ “It will waste resources and energy to create a new name and ultimately those who are responsible for the negative attitude will not be deterred by a name change,” organizers state.

■ “It is highly insulting to students, alumni, staff and advocates to say that the name Sunset High School is so poorly regarded that it must be re-branded,” the petition lists. “We are proud to be a part of Sunset High School’s past and present.”

■ “It sends a message to students that the solution to bullying and negative stereotypes is to cave in and try to be something different when faced with a challenge,” the petition also lists.

Sunset High School’s reconstruction is being done under the district’s Proposition AA, a $449 million bond program for improvements districtwide. Demolition of the campus began in early July.

Continuation high schools offer an alternative to traditional campuses and include programs for at-risk students.

The petition can be found online at

(Story updated 9/17/2019 at 7:35 p.m.)

encinitas current, cardiff current