Former principal LaGreta Brown is gone from troubled South Philadelphia High School but remains on the School District payroll at $124,000 a year, officials confirmed.
Brown's resignation was announced by school officials on May 13 - but that apparently applied only to her principal's position, not to her employment.
She is still employed by the district, currently off from work as she uses up a combination of personal and vacation time. On June 1, she is to report to either School District headquarters or to a regional school office, where she will handle a yet-to-be determined job.
"An assignment has not been given yet," said district spokesman Fernando Gallard.
At the end of next month, Superintendent Arlene Ackerman will decide whether Brown remains employed by the district, he said.
Brown's resignation came on the same day that teachers at the school were preparing to hold a no-confidence vote and The Inquirer was pressing questions about her lack of a state principal's certification.
She had been widely criticized for her handling of the violence that erupted at the school on Dec. 3, when groups of mostly African American students attacked about 30 Asians.
The assaults sent seven Asian students to hospitals, triggered a one-week boycott by 50 students, and spurred formal inquiries by the district, the state Human Relations Commission, and the U.S. Justice Department.
On May 13, as teachers gathered to consider the no-confidence measure, Ackerman traveled to the school to meet with staff. District officials said then that Brown had previously agreed to step down at the end of the school year, but that the questions about her certification prompted her to resign immediately.
Brown's ongoing employment is troubling to some observers.
"It's been an embarrassment to the Ackerman administration and it makes no sense to me to give her an extra month's bonus," said Zack Stalberg, president and chief executive of the city watchdog group Committee of Seventy. "After all the problems, she's getting an extra little sweetener."
Helen Gym, a board member of Asian Americans United, which has worked to support students at the school, said last night that "it's a really novel idea that you can quit the job and still get paid."
"Overall, the whole situation has been very baffling. We're looking forward to the new leadership. As soon as possible."
Gallard declined to address the criticism. "She is employed until June 30, and because it is a personnel matter, we are unable to comment in detail regarding her employment," he said.
The district earlier announced that Otis Hackney III, principal of Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County, would take over as Brown's replacement on July 1. Ozzie Wright, a retired district principal who had assisted Brown since December, is interim principal.
"It was made very clear to me her intent was not to leave the School District of Philadelphia but to leave South Philadelphia High School, because she felt her effectiveness there had been compromised," said Michael Lerner, president of the city school administrators' union.
Brown has not been disciplined and has not been poorly rated by supervisors, he said. So "unless she chooses to leave the district, the district would have to afford her with all her due-process rights before they would attempt to dismiss her."
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 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.
In her resignation letter to Ackerman, Brown wrote that "it has become apparent that I have been made the focus of a controversy that continues to impede the education process to the detriment of the students."
On the day Brown resigned, The Inquirer was asking questions about her administrative credentials. Her Pennsylvania principal certification was not active - a fact known to district leadership when they hired her - and she never obtained an emergency certification. District officials said Brown was "confused" about the certification requirements.
Following Brown's resignation, a district review identified 15 other principals also working without valid certification. All have applied for the proper paperwork, officials said.