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Freeman Asks for Reinstatement as Inglewood Principal : Education: Ousted administrator defends his record at the high school and asks the school board for his job back. Board remains noncommittal.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lawrence Freeman, the ousted principal of Inglewood High School, broke nearly two months of silence Wednesday night and appealed to the school board in closed session to return him to his old job.

Freeman, in prepared remarks that he later made public, urged board members to “search their hearts” and reinstate him to the high school he headed for 6 1/2 years.

“I’m not saying I’m the only one that can run Inglewood High School,” Freeman said in a Thursday morning interview. “I’m just asking them, ‘Who’s going to have the tenacity, dedication and concern of Larry Freeman?’ ”

The board voted last month to remove Freeman from the school and reassign him to another position in the Inglewood Unified School District. They cited longstanding complaints from students and teachers and a May 1 outbreak of fighting between black and Latino students, which some blamed on Freeman. The 67-year-old educator has been on stress leave since then.

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Freeman defended his record as principal and compared his transfer to that of a baseball manager who gets fired after his team loses a game.

“I recognize the fact that there are people out there that are anti-Larry Freeman, but there are pro-Larry Freeman people out there, too,” he said in the interview. “There were some teachers who wanted to hang me in the city square during my first year who are now working harmoniously with me.”

Community members have lined up on both sides since Freeman’s removal. A group of students and teachers asked for Freeman’s ouster last month after the board had decided in closed session to remove him from the high school. Earlier this month, Freeman’s defenders, including former board member Tony Draper and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roosevelt F. Dorn, urged the board to reverse its decision.

Freeman said board members gave no signal of his future status Wednesday, but after the meeting he gave this prognosis: “My gut feeling is I have seen the last of Inglewood High School.”

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Newly elected board President Lois Hill Hale said the board has not yet considered reinstating Freeman, although she said “he will be discussed in the future.”

Board member Zyra McCloud has said she would vote to reinstate Freeman, but other board members have not indicated their positions.

On Wednesday, the board took another step toward replacing Freeman when it agreed to seek additional applications from candidates for his position and five other administrative posts.

Hill Hale said qualified candidates have applied for the openings, but the board decided to extend the search because it wanted more people to choose from.

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The board will seek applicants for the principal’s position at Inglewood High School and Crozier Junior High School and a total of four assistant principal positions at Crozier and Inglewood and Morningside high schools.

The acting administrators at those schools will continue in their posts for another month while the board conducts its search. Liza Daniels, an assistant principal under Freeman, is the acting principal at Inglewood High, and Marcia Hazelton is filling in at Crozier.

District officials declined to reveal how many applications the district had received, although one applicant for the Inglewood High principalship is Ken Crowe, the principal at Hawthorne High School in the neighboring Centinela Valley Union High School District.


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