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New Principal Named at Jefferson

Juan Flecha, the top administrator at Eagle Rock High, will take over July 1 at the troubled South Los Angeles school.

June 15, 2005|Nicholas Shields | Times Staff Writer

After a tumultuous two months at Jefferson High School, Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced Tuesday that they had hired a new principal to begin July 1.

Juan Flecha, currently principal of Eagle Rock High School, will replace Norm Morrow as head of the troubled campus in South Los Angeles. Flecha, who has held his current position since December 2002, has worked for the district since 1991.

"He has a depth of experience in this district which should provide the asset to enable him to do a very good job as principal at Jefferson," said Stephanie Brady, district spokeswoman. "He's been highly respected by his colleagues over the many years he has worked in the school district."

Flecha could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The hiring comes two weeks after district Supt. Roy Romer announced that Morrow would be replaced at Jefferson six months before his retirement amid criticism over his handling of the outbreaks of violence on campus. Morrow will be transferred to another district position.

Romer said in a recent interview that the principal's management of the recent violence "accelerated" a decision to replace him.

At a Board of Education meeting that day, Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa questioned leadership at the school. "My sense, frankly, is that things are out of control," he said. "I do not get the sense that anyone was in charge."

A series of changes in and around Jefferson could help Flecha's transition. A new high school just south of downtown is scheduled to open July 5. That campus is expected to relieve Jefferson of about 700 students, easing the overcrowding there, officials said.

School officials recently announced that 90 surveillance cameras would be installed this summer, an interior paint project completed and graffiti removed around the campus. Three additional security officers have also been assigned to the campus.

The changes come after three melees, the first involving more than 100 students near the school's cafeteria. Three students were hurt.

In the second, more than 100 black and Latino students fought in a brawl that officials said had links to a gang dispute. Six students were detained and two of them were arrested. Another student suffered a broken hip.

The third fight, involving about 20 students, occurred on the eve of a planned "Day of Dialogue" event that district officials had scheduled after the first two brawls.

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