Education News

Two Months Into Investigation At Furr, No Clear Resolution

Previous investigations into school leaders have lasted many months, even years

Principal Bertie Simmons came out of retirement to lead Furr High School, where she was principal for over 10 years until she was suspended this fall.
Principal Bertie Simmons came out of retirement to lead Furr High School, where she was principal for over 10 years until she was suspended this fall.

When longtime principal Bertie Simmons was suspended from Furr High School at the end of September, her attorney Scott Newar pressed for her quick reinstatement.

“This is a tragedy for the students at Furr and their families,” he told reporters in October. “So the district has it within its power to end this now. And we’ve called on them to do so and we say it again here today.”

But two months since Simmons was sent home from school, there’s no clear resolution to either a related lawsuit over free speech and discrimination claims — or the district’s internal probe.

In fact, the Houston Independent School District has widened that probe. News 88. 7 got a hold of court records. They cite additional concerns over “grade changes, master scheduling and expenditures.”

View Fullscreen

Simmons’ attorney declined to talk about the case, citing the pending litigation. A trial has been set for September 2018 and for now, Simmons remains suspended with pay.

HISD spokesman Tracy Clemons also declined to comment or provide information about the school’s new interim principal, Rosa E. Hernandez.

“She was appointed just like interim principals are appointed to any other school when the principal has an extended absence for any reason,” Clemons said in an email. “We are working with XQ to continue implementation of the grant.” The California-based XQ Institute awarded Furr High School a $10 million dollar grant over five years in 2016.

Previous investigations into school leaders have lasted many months, even years. 

Former Sharpstown High’s principal Rob Gasparello fought various allegations on and off for about three years until the board fired him in 2016. In another high-profile case, HISD ultimately paid a former administrator, Mable Caleb, over $500,000 in a settlement, six years after she was accused of overseeing test cheating and improper fundraisers.

Share

Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

More Information