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N.Y. educator turns down principal's job at L.A. arts high school

Kim M. Bruno has apparently decided to remain as principal of the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the campus associated with the movie 'Fame.'

August 13, 2011|By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
  • Kim M. Bruno has apparently decided not to accept the principal's job at the downtown L.A. arts high school. Instead, she'll remain as principal of the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the campus associated with the movie "Fame."
Kim M. Bruno has apparently decided not to accept the principal's… (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles…)

The New York City arts educator favored to run the downtown arts high school in Los Angeles has turned down the job, adding another chapter to the troubled history of the distinctive campus.

Kim M. Bruno has apparently decided to remain as principal of the LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, the campus associated with the movie "Fame."

One complication in making the move to Los Angeles was a "family health issue," L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy said Friday.

The ultra-modern $232-million campus, topped by an angular steel tower, has already seen two principals and two executive directors in two years of operation. Both principals departed involuntarily after one academic year. The most recent, Luis Lopez, was removed (and later promoted) in large measure to make room for Bruno.

The school's brief history also has included a successful effort to turn around a poor accreditation review and an ongoing struggle to raise money — the school costs about 30% more to operate than traditional high schools, according to the L.A. Unified School District. Debate continues over how students should be selected to attend the centerpiece campus.

Deasy said that an interim principal, still to be appointed, would fill in while a new search begins. Veteran administrator Chieko Rupp is currently serving in the post.

The district had recruited Bruno twice before, prior to the school's opening and during the latter portion of the school's first year. Billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad became involved in trying to attract a high-profile outsider, even offering to pay part of a larger-than-standard salary.

When Bruno's candidacy recently became public, district officials put an announcement of the selection on hold, honoring a commitment to involve school parents and leaders in the principal's selection. Issues also arose in the negotiations with Bruno, including the district's level of commitment toward supporting the school, according to district sources, who requested anonymity because the selection and negotiation process is supposed to be confidential.

A school committee that interviewed several candidates in private ultimately favored Bruno, these sources said.

Bruno could not be reached for comment.

howard.blume@latimes.com

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