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Top LA arts high school to get new principal

The crowd during the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts' grand opening of the new facility in May 2013.
The crowd during the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts' grand opening of the new facility in May 2013.
Courtesy of CSULA Public Affairs

The famed arts high school located on the campus of Cal State L.A. is searching for a new principal.

The Los Angeles County High School for the Arts will start the school year with an interim principal, following the July 1 resignation of George Simpson, who had led the school since 2008.

"I think the vision for the leadership for the school is different now than it was when I was hired six years ago," Simpson said.

He wouldn't get into details, but suggested that county officials wanted a different approach for the school. The school is run by the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

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Simpson spoke to KPCC from Boston, where he has relocated. Lisa Sherman-Colt is currently working as the interim principal for the school — she was previously the school's assistant principal. 

The school was featured in the 2012 documentary Fame High. Its alumni include musician Josh Groban and actor Jenna Elfman.

"It was hard," Simpson said of his decision to step down. "I tried as best I could to shield the kids and faculty and family from a lot of issues that were distractions away from the real work."

Simpson added that he loved the school and thought it was in a good place for him to make a transition. 

A spokesperson for the county Office of Education declined a request for an interview regarding a new direction for the school. In a written statement, Superintendent Arturo Delgado praised Simpson for his improvements to the school and said he accepted the resignation announcement "with much regret."

"We aim to find an individual who can build upon the school's legacy, and continue to enhance the outstanding programming that makes LACHSA one of the nation's top public arts high schools," he wrote. 

During Simpson's leadership, the school added AP courses, began offering students the option to take mandarin, and diversified its student population. The students and staff also moved into a $31 million, three-level school building in March 2013. It had shared space with the university since the school was founded in 1985.

The high school has consistently scored well above state API test averages during the last six years. Its 2013 score placed the school in the top 20 percent of high schools in California. 

The county is conducting a national search for a new principal. The application period for the new spot closes August 29. Simpson said he'll share news of his next career move soon.