Former South Philadelphia High principal leaves district payroll

Former South Philadelphia High principal LaGreta Brown left the school district payroll Wednesday, though Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said she was open to rehiring her at a lesser, lower-paid position.

Brown would have to obtain proper certification first, Ackerman said.

Brown, who was paid $124,000 a year, resigned as principal of the troubled high school May 13, after The Inquirer raised questions about her lack of state certification. She had been widely criticized for her handling of the violence that erupted Dec. 3, when groups of mostly African American students carried out a daylong series of assaults on Asian classmates.

Ackerman said on Wednesday that Brown must have her certification in order as a prerequisite to being considered for rehiring.

She said she could envision Brown becoming an assistant principal, though that decision would be made by the principal of the school where she might be considered.

"I'm neutral on it," Ackerman said. "I'm not going to place her in a school. She will have to interview. . . . If everything is in order, I certainly would not say to her that she could not interview."

Brown resigned as principal of South Philadelphia High just ahead of a no-confidence vote by the staff, but did not leave the district. After using up a combination of personal and vacation time, she reported to work in a district regional office, where she continued to draw her full salary.

District officials had said Ackerman would decide on June 30, the end of the fiscal year, whether Brown would remain employed. On Wednesday, Ackerman said Brown's employment was "not something that's high on my list right now," as she was focused on filling principalships and other ranking positions.

"I would be supportive of her becoming an assistant principal, and learning from a strong principal who could support her growth," Ackerman said. "I believe she deserves a fair chance. She did some good things."

Last fall, Brown took charge of a school that has long failed to meet state performance standards and has been labeled "persistently dangerous" under federal law. A federal civil-rights complaint, filed against the district in January by an Asian civil-rights group, leveled several accusations at Brown, saying she showed a discriminatory attitude toward Asian students.

Brown's Pennsylvania principal's certification was not active - a fact known to district leaders when they hired her - and she never obtained emergency certification. As she left the high school, district officials said Brown had been "confused" about the certification requirements.

Ackerman said yesterday that Brown was not to blame for all that occurred at the school, and that not every staff member supported holding a no-confidence vote.

"I'm going to try to be fair here," she said. "I want to give her an opportunity. There were some positive things she did, even if I didn't agree with everything she did. She worked hard when she was there. She made some positive changes."

Brown could not be reached for comment. 


Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415 or jgammage@phillynews.com.