SOUTH PASADENA — The Board of Education has rejected a request by parents to reinstate two veteran elementary school principals being ousted in an administrative shake-up.
"We've made very clear what our views are on this subject," board President Yvonne Pine told more than 200 people at last week's board meeting. "The board has made its intentions clear."
A group of parents calling itself People for Reinstatement of our Principles (PROP) submitted 505 signed petitions requesting that Arroyo Vista Principal Betty Cowan and Monterey Hills Principal James L. Greulich be reinstated to their jobs next fall.
Last month, Greulich, 60, a principal in the district for 29 years, resigned effective in June, and Cowan asked for reassignment to a teaching post. Cowan, also 60, has been with the district for 32 years, the last 17 as a principal. Cowan has said only that she requested a reassignment for personal reasons, but Greulich said Supt. Warren Newman told him that he no longer fit in with the district's plans.
Newman, in an earlier interview, said the principals voluntarily gave up their posts, but at the board meeting he said that if they had not stepped aside voluntarily he would have recommended that Cowan and Greulich be assigned to the other jobs in June.
Pine told parents that the board unanimously supported Newman's decision. Both officials declined to give specific reasons for the personnel changes, saying that state law prohibits discussion of the subject, but in a previous interview Pine said that "philosophical differences" were involved in the decision.
PROP founder Terry Robinson, a parent at Monterey Hills School, told board members that Newman's decision was "extremely poor," adding, "I question the district's ability to sit in judgment of our principals if this is an example of their administrative decisions."
Parent Anthonie Voogd accused district officials of cloaking their actions in "artificial legalities."
The board also heard from a student, 6-year-old Erica Cordova, who said, "My principal is Mr. Greulich and I don't want him to leave."
Several parents expressed support for the board, saying that they believe change is needed.
"Do not let the present turmoil blind you to the strengths of this administration," said Judy McGibbons, a parent at Arroyo Vista.
Another woman praised Greulich, saying, "He spent 17 years with my children and he survived." But she added that it would be "ill-advised to seek reinstatement" because continued struggle over the issue would divide the community.
Robinson said in an interview later that she was "very disappointed" by the board's refusal to reconsider the personnel changes. "At this point we're back to 'is it worth a recall?' " she said. "A recall would be the only course of action left, and at this point I'm not sure we're ready."