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The Great Fremont Chronology (from 1994 to 2010)

December 14, 2010

Below is a chronology put together by Chuck in about January of 2010 that should give you helpful background and understanding as to the dizzying array of administrative changes and “magic bullets” at Fremont since 1994.  I arrived in March 2003 and so missed the early time.   This should be quite entertaining reading as well as providing understanding as to why so many teachers resisted reconstitution.     Anything in purple font was added by me, either something I remember or some clarification.

CHUCK OLYNYK circa January 2010

In 160 days, my career as a teacher at John C. Fremont ends under the guise of

reconstitution.  Or is that restructuring? Maybe it’s the history teacher in me,

but I look at time quite a bit, hanging events in eras, seeing patterns.

In 503 years of the Roman Empire, the average Roman emperor lasted 5.5 years.

Since July 1994, we have had eight principals at Fremont High School. Our “Caesar” has a “job-expectancy” of 23 ¼ months. During those same 16 years, approximately 30 Assistant Principals (including 5 SIFs school improvement facilitators—1 former AP hired at this position, 1 later hired as an AP when the SIF positions were eliminated)have worked at Fremont, overseeing the management of an “urban high school.”

As to the facility itself, built in 1924, I believe, it was designed for 2400 students. When it went year-round on the Concept 6 calendar and added the 9th grade in July 1994, the campus population swelled to something like 5000 students; not all were there at once, since we operate with three tracks, one of which is off at an one time; that puts us at something like 3600 students.  Add to that, approximately 250 teachers and who knows just how many other staff.

We’re bigger that many medieval towns were, and as large as the number of citizens in an ideal Greek city-state.

But our situation is far from ideal.

In Thursday’s meeting of the Committee to Save Fremont, the usual suspects were involved in trying to recall all the magic bullets and quick fixes applied to this institution since 1994. That led to a discussion of administrative/leadership teams over the years.

Maybe if we can figure out who came when, we can recreate that list of all the wonderful plans that could have fixed Fremont if only we cared enough about the kids (heavy-handed sarcasm alert)…

When I arrived in July 1994, Fremont went on the Concept 6 Calendar, added the ninth grade and got a new principal, Rosa Hong  Morley, all in the same day. Her administrative team was Jacqueline Furby, Marcie Hines, Dan Holguin and Connie Semf. The team remained stable (if you could call anyone at Fremont stable), until 1997-8, when Dan Holguin transferred and Lisa Harvin, who had been brought in to help do accreditation, became the new Dan.

In July 1998, Rosa Morley went downtown and Lupe Simpson became the new principal. It was a tumultuous year, with Jackie Furby and Lisa Harvin also departing. The next year Connie Semf also left, and we gained Cliff Kerr and Penny Sommers, Penny taking Connie’s job.. By late fall, Lupe Simpson had “requested a change in assignment,” sometime after a huge student-organized walkout which received national news coverage. Lupe Simpson was replaced for the remainder of the year by Auggie Herrera, who managed to jump start the stalled (abandoned is more like it) prep for accreditation, successfully leading us through it.

In July 2000, Margaret Rowland took the helm, and the administrative team included James Hooker, J. Maxie Hemmons, Pat Nichols, with Marcie Hines still hanging on. Margaret Rowland lasted two years.

In July 2002, La Verne Brunt became the principal, painted her office purple and assembled the administrative team of Pat Nichols, Willie Richardson, Jack Baroutjian, Mary Hill, Ezequiel Gonzalez and Marcie Hines.

In July 2004 came the Grand Experiment (I like to call it “the Division of the Roman Empire”) with two principals: Rosa Diaz-Denny and Larry Higgens. The team included Roman Del Rosario, Mary Hill, Frances Minot, Simone Charles (still with us) and Ms. Alwright. This was also what some of us called the Year of the SIFs, with Ms. Henry, Sarah Usmani and Pat Nichols in those administrative positions.

By July 2007, the Grand Experiment failed, and Larry Higgins became the sole principal, with Rosa Diaz-Denny going to Gage. During Mr. Higgins’ first solo year at Fremont, he brought Stephen Rooney on board, and I believe that’s when Marilyn Gavin joined Team Fremont.

I think July 2008 brought us Linda Moore, Gorden Spielberg and Ruben Hernandez. (also Michelle Barker)

Please, let me know if I left anybody out and if you’re able to come up with which “magic bullet” was tried/planned for/training done for.  I know thatConcept 6 begins 1994, and that during Ms. Brunt’s command, there was discussion of block scheduling and some sort of unit plan with culminating tasks.”   We did indeed begin using a matrix and culminating tasks were all the rage during Ms. Brunt’s tenure. Ms. Brunt was a very competent principal. I believe she is now at the 32st street USC Magnet.

Okay, we got a few more names. I know Ms. Jaregui was around during Ms. Rowland’s regime because I was sketching people in Instructional Leadership meetings–don’t laugh, I used to do those things. And ——— placed Walter Flores in the Herrera administration, in charge of the dean’s office.. What was Cliff Kerr, athletics? And Moore was a SIF?


So far we’ve got:

July ’94-8: Rosa Morley (with Jacqueline Furby, Marcie Hines, Dan Holguin, Connie Semf–who bailed out Lupe’s last year, Lisa Harvin in the last year)–genius plan(s): Concept 6, accreditation–phone lines/computers too expensive to install in the classrooms. What else, guys?

July ’98-Oct/Nov ’99: Lupe Simpson (Marcie, Connie, Cliff Ker and I don’t

remember who else)–genius plan(s): No librarian (left behind?). What else?

November ’99-July ’00: Auggie Herrera (Marcie, Cliff, Penny Sommers, Walter Flores)–genius plan(s): The Fence, the long-gone mural which only appears in pictures now, surviving accreditation, Pathfinder bumper stickers. What else?

July ’00- ’02: Margaret Rowland (James Hooker, J. Maxie Hemmons, Pat Nichols, Marcie Hines, Ms. Jaregui)–genius plan(s): Hooker’s hall pass debate–I can’t pass up mentioning the “rootah-bus”–I think AP classes came in (at least AP government did). What else?

July ’02- ’04: La Verne Brunt (Pat Nichols, Willie Richardson, Jack Baroutjian, Mary Hill, Ezequiel Gonzalez, Marcie Hines)–genius plan(s): I remember something about Instructional Matrix, “pat on the back,” meetings/debates on block scheduling—with Dr. Rousseau there, something about thinking maps…

July’04-’06: Rosa Diaz-Denny/Larry Higgens (Roman Del Rosario, Mary Hill, Frances Minot, Simone Charles, Mary Alwright)—genius plans: Two Principals, the SIFs (was that School Improvement Facilitator?) Jackie Henry, Sarah Usmani and Pat Nichols, later Linda Moore and someone else, and I think SLCs. What else?

July ’06-’09: Larry Higgins solo command (Michelle Barker, Marilyn Gavin,Stephen Rooney, Linda Moore, Gordon Spielberg, Ruben Hernandez)—genius plan(s):

ILTs. What else?

Where do these fit? “Fidelity to the program”, “Accountable Talk”, “Beyond our sphere of influence” was said whenever the issue of poverty was brought up, “Intended curriculum”,  First Things First, Bulletin 1600, that whole list of stuff we came up with at the last meeting?

Come on, add to the list. We’ve clearly had no stability in leadership in 16 years. With that many chiefs, we’ve been like a rudderless ship in a storm.

Let’s see just how many ideas have been offered as the “magic bullet.” Yes, some were great ideas, but we never follow through.

Between 2002-2004, debated raged from on high about how we could best implement our teaching. A process which went on for years was “Unpacking the Standards,” wherein every department meeting and nearly every staff development involved, at least in Social Studies, the “unpacking” of Standard 10.1. It reads as follows,

“Students relate the moral and ethical principles in ancient Greek and Roman

philosophy, in Judaism, and in Christianity to the development of Western

political thought.”

The  Standards were  “unpacked” so often that an endless round of jokes came out. There was also much questioning about “Can the students

articulate the standard?” Add to this that the teacher had to create an “Instructional Matrix” (basically what the unit was about, what sacred standard was covered), post what “scaffolding lessons” were to be used, and what the “culminating task” (not a test—oh no) would be do demonstrate the student’s mastery of said standard.  Thinking maps were another magic bullet to appear.


Things I remember from the past :

I and other teachers were forced to attend at least five PD’s where the same standard – 10.1- was “unpacked”  by some type of instructional coach with the exact same lesson plan every single time.  The very last time a coach attempted to “unpack” that standard in a meeting, the social studies teachers revolted and we would not allow the “coach” to continue. Now you understand my pathological avoidance of meetings of any kind at Fremont.  (To add insult to injury, the History Alive binder that lesson came out of  – worth thousands of dollars- disappeared when all the coaches did.)

Mr.James Hooker was dreaded by teachers and students alike and was transferred when a bullet was placed on his desk in the dean’s office. (most people think it was a student who did this.)  He wanted teachers at Fremont to have themed bulletin boards and change them with each unit, even teachers who were traveling period by period.  This was in the really overcrowded days of Fremont when discipline was out of control and classes were much more crowded.   Teachers were terrified when he came in to do Stull evaluations.

Roman Del Rosario was a popular administrator because he had worked at Fremont as a science teacher. He almost worked himself to death and moved down to the San Diego area.

I have heard only positive things about Auggie Herrera from everyone at Fremont.  He came out of retirement to take over from Lupe Simpson. Teachers were sorry when he left.

Jack Baroutjian, another competent AP walked out, never to return after an altercation with Rosa Diaz -Denny.   I believe he left the field of education.

I think Mr. Higgins first solo year was 2006 (not 2007)

Marilyn Gavin was an extremely competent head counselor.  She is missed here and is now a principal at Mendez Learning Center (a mayor’s partnership school).   She brought stability and professionalism to the counseling office.  Known as a straight shooter. No bs.

Mr. Rooney was arrested –in fact right outside my classroom window – for sexual assault of a student at another school.  You all probably know the rest of the story.

One of the AP’s above who shall remain nameless and who departed several years ago believed she was reincarnated and believed she used to be a famous person from WW II. She kept my colleague, Janet Tran (who has since departed to Camino Nuevo charter school),  in a Stull meeting for two hours going over the whole reincarnation thing.  Janet, who had been hired as an intern and was on temporary status, was too terrified to leave the meeting or say anything.  But she did get a good Stull evaluation that year.

We had a group of what I think were administrators called SIF’s . They had an office, they walked around a lot,  but I don’t think I ever figured out what they did.   Sarah Usmani, one of the SIFs,  is now an AP at a school where Scott Braxton is principal.  Mr. Braxton was head of secondary schools in District 7 and was well liked by teachers.  He was able to get us much Advanced Placement material and we were very grateful to him.  He took the fall for the whole Rooney fiasco.  He was the only high –level administrator worth anything that ever came out of District 7 in most teachers’ opinions.

Another administrator who shall remain nameless felt that a female special ed teacher was dressing too provocatively and so wrote a letter to her explaining in explicit detail exactly how provocatively she was dressing.   That didn’t go over too well.   That administrator was gone the next year for that and other reasons.

Imagine being a teacher and seeing administrators like some of the ones above making two times or more what you make and now we teachers are being blamed for a “culture of failure.”     And it really hurts when we lose people like Ms. Gavin, Mr. Baroutjian and Roman del Rosario  who are competent and well-respected.  When each departed, we lost something that can’t be replaced.

As teachers, we value any competence we see because we haven’t seen it that often.

When the going gets tough, teachers at Fremont, despite previous differences we may have had with each other, will stick together and fight. The teachers who have stayed at Fremont have developed integral relationships to help our students and without those relationships, we are not sure we could be as effective.  Now of course, that is all gone.  It was these relationships that helped our students the most.

Now of course there is the tragedy of reconstitution, a misguided civil rights violation of epic proportions foisted onto the students of Fremont.

I also want to mention the departure of Bogie Garza, a much loved teacher,  in about 2008 to the Elizabeth Learning Center.  We lost a Spanish teacher who had been at Fremont for about 10 years to become a counselor- his name is escaping me at the moment.  Stephanie Lucas was another very competent English teacher  who departed Fremont at some point around  2006??? I believe.  Anyone who wants to add more information-please leave a comment.  Remember, as Chuck mentioned,  Fremont was like a Greek City state and everyone’s experiences were different depending on subject matter, track, location on campus and more.  So send your stories and comments.


Nichole mentioned the principal when she was hired in 1993  was John P. Haydel.  He served as principal for 10 consecutive years from about 1984 to 1994 when Rosa Morley took over.  Nichole  also mentioned that Dan Holguin, Connie Semf  and Jackie Furby were a great administrative team. Alas, at Fremont, it seems great things don’t last too long.


During the last year of Haydel’s tenure there was a coaching recruiting scandal with Fremont’s basketball team being put on a one year probation and two coaches being unable to coach for illegal recruiting.  Fremont had reached the playoff ‘s in Division 4-A the year before and so this was devastating. The head coach, who at that time had worked at Fremont for 17 years claimed he ran a clean program and denied the allegations

Fremont Basketball Program Put on Probation article

Here is an article about a Fremont-Crenshaw Division 4-A matchup in 1988 which harkened back the days of Fremont winning a major upset against Dorsey in 1975 and being called the Miracle Team at that time

Fremont Reminds Some of 1975 Miracle Team

I also was able to find a small excerpt from an article about controversy surrounding Bible clubs  and voluntary prayer on Fremont’s campus.  Apparently Mr. Haydel, teacher Jeff Craig and student Gamiel Polanco supported the prayer clubs.

NBC evening news written excerpt about Bible Clubs at Fremont High

Several other articles about Fremont, especially related to its basketball team during the Haydel era can be found on the web.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Getme Outtahere permalink
    December 16, 2010 3:59 pm

    sure our Principal is a liar…but our scores are better! i think….

  2. Barbara permalink
    December 16, 2010 8:33 pm

    So they wait until the end of the article to mention that he lied. And I saw no evidence presented that Fremont is doing “better. ” In fact the data reflects what we teachers did LAST year. I guess if you are a principal that sells out your own community, profession and students, you have to justify it to yourself somehow. They didn’t mention all the veteran teachers who left between July and now either, did they?

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