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Group Protests Assignment of Controversial Principal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Community activists demonstrated outside Fremont High School in South-Central Los Angeles on Wednesday to protest the appointment of a new principal.

Juanita Tate of Concerned Citizens of South-Central Los Angeles alleged that school district officials transferred Guadalupe Simpson to Fremont after she was at the center of a controversy as principal of Nimitz Middle School in Huntington Park.

“How did she get here?” Tate asked during a boisterous news conference just outside the school grounds. “Why didn’t they send her to the Valley. Because, you know, I’m like the people in the Valley. For me, it’s ‘not in my backyard.’ ”

Simpson replaced Principal Rosa Morley, who was recently promoted.

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Tate distributed a copy of a November 1997 report by a weekly Los Angeles newspaper in which current and former Nimitz teachers alleged that Simpson used unproven child-abuse allegations and other tactics to intimidate staff.

Spokesman Patrick Spencer said the Los Angeles Unified School District had probed the allegations.

“No evidence has turned up to prevent [Simpson] from being assigned” to Fremont, he said. “If any of those charges were true and could be verified, she would not be here.”

Day Higuchi, president of the United Teachers-Los Angeles union, said Simpson is infamous among teachers as “both vicious and incompetent.”

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Higuchi said Simpson’s transfer was part of a syndrome in the district sardonically called “the dance of the lemons,” in which troubled principals are shifted from school to school rather than being fired. At least 200 teachers left Nimitz during Simpson’s tenure, Higuchi said, enough to staff the school twice over.

Simpson did not return calls seeking comment.

Huntington Park Police Sgt. Ron Beason said his office had recently investigated more than a dozen, mostly minor charges of alleged child abuse at Nimitz. To his knowledge, no criminal charges had been filed in any of the cases.


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