The attorney for a suspended principal in Houston says his client didn’t disobey a district decision to relax the student dress code after Hurricane Harvey and never threatened a student.
Houston Independent School District officials announced recently that Furr High School Principal Bertie Simmons was placed on leave without pay Sept. 29 because of a personnel matter.
Simmons’ attorney Scott Newar wrote a letter to Superintendent Richard Carranza denying the district’s allegations, The Houston Chronicle reported .
Newar said other schools in the district have been permitted to decide how to handle the dress code after Harvey. He also said Simmons has joked to misbehaving students about a baseball bat she keeps in her office, but that she has never threatened or used the bat on a student.
Senior Jordan Davis said Simmons had once playfully reprimanded him when his grades began to slip.
“Ever since I walked in her office, she told me she’s going to watch me, she believes in me and her door is always open,” he said. “She told me at one point ‘Don’t make me take my earrings off and take you down.’ But I knew she was joking — it was so obvious. I love her with all my heart.”
Simmons, 83, is widely known for coming out of retirement in 2000 to lead the high school’s efforts to improve academically. Staff had nicknamed Furr High the “drop-out factory” in 2000. Simmons has helped raise the school’s graduation rate to about 90 percent in 2016.
District Trustee Diana Davila said Simmons is being treated according to district policy.