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Popular Figure at Lynwood High : Rumored Principal Firing Stirs Protest by Students

February 19, 1987|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

LYNWOOD — Angry over rumors that their principal is going to be fired and dissatisfied with a number of conditions at Lynwood High School, more than 300 students held a peaceful demonstration Wednesday outside the school.

Carrying placards and signs that asked that the principal not be fired, the students marched for more than two hours before returning to the school at the request of Principal Larry Tripplett.

The students said they were marching because they had heard rumors that Tripplett, who has been principal at the 2,800-student school since April, 1985, would be fired, said Austin McCowan, student body president.

McCowan, 17, said students had heard that the school board of the Lynwood Unified School District would not renew Tripplett's contract for next school year. Most administrators and teachers in the district, including Tripplett, have one-year contracts.

Other Conditions at Issue

McCowan said the students were also protesting because there is no hot water in the gym for students to take showers, no heat in some classrooms and the auditorium, and the school lacks a cafeteria.

"Students have to stand outside and eat, even when it is raining," McCowan said.

Board President Helen Andersen said she was "a little perplexed" by the students' protest.

Andersen said there has been no open board discussion about firing Tripplett or any administrator. But she said a discussion on "various administrators" was held in closed session at the last board meeting, Feb. 11.

"We usually discuss all of the principals," Andersen said in an interview.

Andersen said such discussions are routine this time of year because the district must soon start preparing the budget for 1987-88. The board is also required by law to send notices to all administrators and teachers if they might not have their contracts renewed or might have their jobs changed, Andersen said. She said the next board meeting is Tuesday and she expected some decisions by then.

Also Heard Rumors

Wednesday's protest was the second in two weeks by the students. Tripplett, who said he has also heard rumors that he was on his way out, said he did not know if they are true. "I have not heard from the board. At this point, it is a rumor," he said.

Tripplett, 36, told students Wednesday that he appreciated their concern. "I know you support me, but you cannot stay out of school," he told the protesters.

At his request, the students filed into the auditorium where he held a discussion with them before they agreed to return to class.

The protesting students received support from some of the city's politicians, including board member Thelma Williams. "I support the students' efforts 100%. I hope they accomplish what they set out to do," said Williams, who observed the demonstration.

Lynwood City Councilman Robert Henning also attended. "This is fantastic. I would rather see them protest . . . than be in the streets, joining gangs and taking dope," Henning said.

Some parents also responded with support for Tripplett. "Some of us will try and set up a meeting with the board and find out what is going on," said Jacqueline Dandridge, president of the football booster club. "Mr. Tripplett is a good role model for these kids. He has inspired them. He pushes them to prepare for college. The kids care about him."

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