Pass / Fail | So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Mid-city parents win fight against LA elementary school principal

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In a remarkable proof of the power of angry parents, the principal of Carthay Center Elementary School will not return to the school next year, the Los Angeles Unified School District said Tuesday.

The decision came after parents staged a protest outside the school Monday, complaining Principal Crystal Campbell-Shirley ordered the dismissal of half the 14-teacher staff for the coming school year. They vowed to continue daily protests until the teachers were reinstated and the principal removed.

"We tried to work with her for the first six months, but there were a lot problems," said parent Tyson Roberts.

On Tuesday, the district said it was reviewing the teacher dismissals. On Wednesday, teachers told parents they've all been invited back for the next school year.

“We are thrilled LAUSD has supported our school, and finally heard what we’ve been trying to say,” said Jennifer Dowd-Giuliano, the school's PTA president.

"There are other schools in the district where it’s taken years for parents to organize and sign petitions" to affect change in school leadership, said parent Kim Silverstein. 

L.A. Unified officials Principal Campbell-Shirley will be reassigned. It was her first year at Carthay.

Parents at the school have organized a union in hopes of strengthening advocacy on campus.

After electing leadership Wednesday, they had thought their first order of business would be getting teachers reinstated. Now they say it'll be finding a principal who's aligned with their beliefs.

"We don't want to be in opposition, we want to be in partnership,” said Silverstein.

The school is remaking itself into an Environmental Studies magnet next year to combat declining enrollment and its related budget reduction.

Roberts, who sits on the school's magnet committee, hopes new leadership will make the environmental studies curriculum a top priority. He complained that Campbell-Shirley had not been interested in training teachers in the new material.

"We have to focus on training the teachers now so we can follow through on our promises to parents," he said.

This story has been updated.