Principals, teachers removed at schools ID'd as failing

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- School district officials are removing principals and teachers at four troubled schools after state audits found inadequate teaching, weak leadership and buildings marred by graffiti.

''This is serious reform,'' Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer said. ''These schools had deteriorated to a point where they had very low expectations. People weren't functioning well. Sometimes you need to change the culture of a place.''

The principal of Sun Valley Middle School has departed and accepted a demotion, and three other principals are stepping down or have been asked to leave their positions at Roosevelt High School, Wilson High School and Locke High School, district officials said Jan. 10.

Other administrators also will be reassigned, and several teachers and other employees must agree to dozens of corrective measures to keep their jobs, officials said.

Teachers union representative Sharon Noland, who has been reassigned, said she plans to fight it.

''I have devoted 37 years of my life to this district,'' she said. ''Overnight, they're going to demote me to destroy my life. I've done nothing wrong.''

The changes follow the passage of a far-reaching federal law requiring more school accountability.

President Bush signed the bill Jan. 8, requiring reading and math tests for children in grades three through eight beginning in the 2005-06 school year. Schools must develop periodic ''report cards,'' raise all students to reading and math proficiency in 12 years, and close gaps between wealthy and poor students and whites and minorities.

In the Los Angeles district, auditors found that the four schools were overwhelmed by students' needs and suffered from low morale.

Teachers at Roosevelt High said English instruction and literacy levels are poor.

''I'm a math teacher, but now I have to spend 10 minutes of every class not covering math, but working on English,'' teacher Jina Cano said.

The education official who oversaw the audits said little progress could have been made without bringing new leaders into some of the schools.

''The issues are absolutely urgent,'' said Leslie Fausset, a chief deputy superintendent with the state Department of Education. ''So in some instances, starting afresh seemed to be the best recommendation.''

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