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Simoni gets nod as next EU athletic director
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Eric Simoni once played basketball under Bill Stricker at East Union High.

The Lancers hoop coach is now in line to become the next dean of athletics at his alma mater. The post was made available when Stricker announced his retirement effective at the end of this school year.

Trustees of the Manteca Unified School District made the move official last Tuesday during closed session.

The board also selected Deborah Forte as the next principal at August Knodt School, Kathy Crouse as the new principal at the Calla Continuation High, and Rupinder Bhatti as Manteca Day principal for the upcoming school year.

Simoni led the East Union High boys’ varsity basketball to three consecutive Valley Oak League championships, from 2003 to 2005. He has a degree in social science from Westmont College and a master’s degree in Administration from the University of La Verne.

 Simoni, who also served as the co-head coach for the boys’ golf team and assistant varsity baseball coach, has been a teacher at East Union since 1997.

Forte received her degree in English at Santa Clara, with a Multiple Subject teaching credential and Administrative Services credential to her credit.

 She’s been with the district since 1998, and has been at August Knodt for the past 11 years.

Forte taught second- and third- grade students and was program coordinator of Manteca Unified’s Gifted And Talented Education for four years.

She’s been vice principal at the school since 2005.

Crouse attended Chico State, where she earned her degree in Social Welfare and Corrections.

She has a master’s degree in Educational Administration from St. Mary’s College and holds a Pupil Personnel Service and Administrative Services credentials.

Crouse was once a correctional officer at Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown prior to becoming campus supervisor at Ceres High.

From 1991-93, she was an interim counselor at Mae Hensley Junior High and, from 1993-95, counselor at both Turlock Adult School and Turlock Junior High, where Crouse was dean of students in 1996.

In 1998, she became assistant principal at Blake Kinser Junior High in Ceres and, two years later, served in the same post at Ceres High.

Crouse came to Manteca Unified in 2004, and was dean of students / vice principal at Sierra High.

Bhatti attended Stanislaus State, earning a degree in English.

She has a master’s degree in Education from National University, and holds credentials in Single Subject English; Cross-cultural Language and Academic Development (CLAD); and Administrative Services.

Bhatti has been with Manteca Unified since 2001, serving as administrative designee and an English instructor for seventh- and eighth- grade students.

In 2007, she was appointed vice principal at Great Valley School.

Bhatti has been involved with the various curriculum programs – Study Success Team, afterschool intervention, STAR test coordinator – while handling discipline and assisting with the site budget.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail