BREAKING NEWS: Muir High School’s Sheryl Orange will be ousted as principal at year’s end.


Muir A.D. Robert Galvan relieved of duties (Pasadena Star-News)

BREAKING NEWS: Gamal Smalley placed on administrative leave (Pasadena Star-News)

FULL STORY: Muir forfeits 20 games, will miss playoffs (Pasadena Star-News)

By Brian Charles and Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writers

PASADENA – John Muir High School Principal Sheryl Orange will be replaced at the end of the school year, Pasadena Unified School District officials said Thursday.

Recent incidents at the school led top PUSD leadership to ask Orange to resign her post as principal effective at the end of the year, according to a district source who commented on the condition of anonymity.

Orange will remain with the PUSD in some capacity, according to the source.

The Muir principal’s position has been posted as an open job on the Ed Join educational job website.

Pasadena Unified School District spokesman Adam Wolfson declined to give detailed comments on the issue.

“Any comment right now would be premature,” he said.

Several sources close to the district said Orange was informed of the decision to remove her weeks ago.

However, other PUSD officials said Thursday that the story posted on this newspaper’s website caught Orange and others at the district by surprise.

Orange did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Orange becomes the second PUSD principal removed from her post since the arrival of Superintendent Jon Gundry in July.

Hoori Chalian was reassigned from her principal’s post at Jefferson Elementary in the fall.

Ranking officials within the PUSD said more principals could be moved before the end of the school year.

Orange took the reins at Muir in 2008 in an effort to

turn the underperforming school around.

Muir underwent a so-called reinvention. The school was divided into separate small learning communities called academies, and the district invested an additional $2.8 million into instruction at Muir.

The results were below expectation, according to PUSD board member Scott Phelps. The district “spent $2.8 million, and we didn’t get the improvement we expected,” he said.

Additionally, Orange’s administration has been mired in controversy during the past year.

A fight between Latino and black students broke out last April, leading to a district investigation into racial tensions on the campus.

In September, Muir football coach Ken Howard allegedly assaulted a student during a bag search.

Howard was told by a Muir administrator to conduct the search, even though he was employed as a security guard and therefore was not authorized to search students.

Howard was placed on administrative leave after the incident. The school has since advertised for a walk-on football coach.

Recently, the boys varsity basketball team vacated all it wins because of the participation of Andre Frazier, who was deemed ineligible to play.

Basketball coach Gamal Smalley and athletic director Robert Galvan were temporarily relieved of their duties pending an investigation into what led the boys basketball team to forfeit 20 games and miss the playoffs, district officials said Thursday.

PUSD hired an independent investigator to look into the matter involving Frazier and the basketball team.

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  • Former Pasadena Employee

    I am saddened by the news of Ms. Orange’s potential dismissal as principal. I had the good fortune of working with her in Pasadena and found her to be professional, dedicated, and conscientious about her school. Many might not remember that she served as Principal and with her staff helped turn around Burbank Elementary. Muir High School is a challenging school with tons of potential. She saw that potential and was one a very few candidates that sought to be Principal at Muir during the reinvention. It is unfortunate that this rash of incidents has tarnished an otherwise great reputation. With no disrespect meant to the noble profession of teaching and as a fellow administrator, I have witnessed how a demotion from Principal to classroom teacher can be hard to recover from. My thoughts and prayers are with her. Let’s hope this is nothing but a rumor. Muir deserves someone of her character and strength

  • I expected a “reprimand” not a firing, for Ms. Orange.
    I worked with Ms. Orange on JMHS’ jog-a-thon a couple of years ago, and found her to be committed to her student body – she made a big difference to the school. It’s easy for people (ME) to say what she should have known or did in this situation, but the AD and Mr. Smalley let her, and the boys basketball team, down.

    By the way, is Joseph Frazier (former Muir alumni injured in motorcyle accident that Mr. Smalley hosted a basketball fundraiser for) related to Andre Frazier? Is that how they met. Just asking.

    Good luck, Ms. Orange. I wish you the best.

    Laurence Todd

  • Always sad to see somebody lose their job. But then again, the buck stops where?

    Let it be a lesson to principals and admins EVERYWHERE that you need to concentrate MORE on your athletic programs. Stop sweating the test scores and attendance for just a little while and start sweating athletics.

    Do you really think Kathie Wiard at Charter Oak would have really let something like this happen at her place? NEVER! She would be all over it to make sure the proper steps were taken to make sure this was an eligible player.

  • Son

    Aram you are assuming that athletics has to do with departure….. Muir has so many issues right now their is no proof athletics has anything to do with this.

  • Someone who knows

    I am sorry to say that the PUSD is the epitome of dysfunction and probably blowing up the whole thing to start anew is the only long term solution.

    To the former employee, running an elementary or even middle school are entirely different from running a properly functioning high school. The PUSD has too many with only elementary backgrounds running the district as a whole and many fail to understand the dynamics of the needs of most high school students especially in dealing with extracurricular and co-curricular activities.

    Come on, when a student attends four high schools in four years, there needs to be some common sense and due diligence before that student-athlete ever steps on/in the court/field/diamond/pool etc. This was a breakdown in the entire administration and program which is a microcosm of what is happening in the entire district, which at one time was a model school system.

  • SportsFan

    It’s the same story at Blair as well! The AD is screwing the school over and the principal is just blindly ignoring it

  • views

    scott phelps is a name no one at muir cares for his word is not respected there nor heard. For you to use a comment from him is like getting a comment from a kkk member on barack obama. Its just never going to be good. Epectations werent what they expected….so the highest uc and college acceptence letters muirs seen in a while and a teacher being named a top 40 teacher and top 2 in the state with the milken award isnt good enough right? But whatever i wish muir would decline anything with the star news. Back to the subject SHERY ORANGE is not at fault in all the cases that resulted in her firing she wasnt truly a part of the name in every single one of these stories is DR. PARK he is single handedly killing muir but no one wants to see that…wake up and get involved get deeper in the story. And to muir name a damn coach you have kids not wanting to train because they dont even know if their playing next year.

  • Over the last 4 years of my stay at Muir High School, I witnessed a large crescendo of momentum from the early years to the late. You want to tell me that didn’t happen ? I don’t know the exact numbers, but the fact stands that test scores have gone UP. Ms. Orange is extremely concerned with the development and betterment of education at John Muir High School, and that is undeniable. People want to publicize and use as excuse that of a few incidents that relate to racism or violence, but don’t realize that it’s not the school, but the area of town that causes it to be this way. I graduated high school 9th in my class and was one of the luckier students to understand that education is a necessity. However, students in that area (minorities typically) grow up without that guidance and find themselves growing to be out of control and with horrible habits that are malevolent to society. Now, what I do know is that Ms. Orange has improved education at Muir, because that is a priority, and that she is extremely likely to be able to look at the deficiencies in the athletic department of John Muir High School.

    You can’t blame a principle for the flaws of the ghetto to which she teaches, but you can stand and realize the work she’s done to change those flaws.

    Zarkhi Palmer
    USC Marshall School of Business
    USC Thornton School of Music

  • Aram said:

    “Do you really think Kathie Wiard at Charter Oak would have really let something like this happen at her place? NEVER! She would be all over it to make sure the proper steps were taken to make sure this was an eligible player.”

    I think it’s great that the students and alumni are voicing their opinions on the matter. Her being forced out was not something I expected…or want to see. Again, I think no one (including me) can question Ms. Orange’s impact and commitment to John Muir High School. However, I am concerned about how the matter was handled by HER since the very beginning.

    With all the great things that have been said, Aram makes a good point i.e. (in short – I’m not putting words in his mouth) we’re not pleased with how Ms. Orange handled this matter, but only because we’re in the dark. That’s the biggest problem – we know (speculatively, no doubt) that Mr. Smalley and Mr. Galvin both failed to do their jobs, but what leadership did Ms. Orange demonstrate when the matter was first brought to her attention? We need to know.

    When Ms. Orange made her first announcement regarding Muir’s forfeiture, she had the power to command the situation and it’s outcome. That’s what great leaders do – they deliver the good and the bad – even making us feel good about the bad, sometimes. Yes, Muir was forfeiting games but ??? That’s what missing from Ms. Orange.

    Ms. Orange, please tell your supporters why they trusted and believed in you, and why they still can.

    Laurence Todd

  • Lets Expose the Parent Revolution

    It is so unfortunate that PUSD would hid behind a fight, the Howard incident and the drama with the basketball team at John Muir High school. First, what’s the status of an investigation to determine which PUSD employee leaked the information about Principal Sheryl Orange? Next let’s talk about what this is really about (since all the rumors that have been planted in the community was intended to be the selling factor about the potential re-assignment of John Muir’s Principal).

    The Parent Revolution is alive and well in Los Angeles County andnow they have landed and impacted Pasadena. This group is also associated with the Green Dot Chaeter. Which by the way, John Muir’s main critic (Sole Teramae with the help of a few PUSD Board members)is associated with and possibly in a paid capacity to the Green Dot Charter. This group was successful in ousting Jefferson principal last July. Then the headlines in the Pasadena Star News paper read “Now on to John Muir High School.” The question should be for everyone concerned about JOHN MUIR and all PUSD schools, “is the Parent Revolution privately running the schools within in PUSD by way of sitting PUSD Board Members?

    So for those PUSD Board Members and the Parent Revolution group who are hiding behind the “Parent Trigger” law, John Muir is not eligible under that law BECAUSE it has steadily increased its numbers and IS STILL IMPROVING. In California to assert parental control over the school. The parent trigger law is designed so that if 51% of parents in a failing school agree it’s necessary, they can force its closure and a charter school takeover.

    Under the year-old parent trigger law, a majority of parents at a school identified as needing acamedic improvement can demand one of four turnaround school strategies.

    The Parent Revolution from the sources within the San Gabriel Valley communities have communicated repeatedly that Ramon Miramontes, Scott Phelps, Kim Kenne and Renatta Cooper all support the efforts of the Parent Revolutions and the Green Dot Charter behind closed doors.

    Removing our Principal or having a charter school at John Muir High School will NOT be in the best interest of our Students or the John Muir High School Community. Stop hating on John Muir and start helping!!!!!!

  • Dr. Barbara Clarke Mossberg

    I had the opportunity to work directly with Principal Sheryl Orange the past two years, for my sabbatical project on education that integrates leadership, environmental studies, humanities, and public policy. Through the John Muir High School Alumni Association, I had the chance to work with Ms. Orange, and to describe to her my project which required being on campus and working with both faculty and students. I shadowed Ms. Orange during her meetings with students and staff and faculty, and walked with her around campus during the day. I have over twenty years of experience in leadership development on federal, national, and state levels, at both public and private institutions, and I felt that in Ms. Orange JMHS had a jewel who cared passionately about her students, respected the educational mission of the school, believed in its turnaround, and the capacity of each student and faculty to transform in positive ways. I myself am an alumni of JMHS, who was awarded a Hall of Fame commendation, and I felt great pride in seeing the progress, spirit, and morale of the school. It was a pleasure to be there to work with students on a musical environmental arts program, and I experienced pride in walking about the campus. Anyone observing Ms. Orange would have been impressed with how she knew every student, followed up with individuals, and showed her care for what happened. She expressed a rigorous value system, and it was clear that she enjoyed and took seriously her role as a leader. It was clear to me, as an outside educator on campus, that she welcomed me and made me feel that I could contribute usefully. I do not know the situation of the last year, but my experience on campus for the past two years was nothing but positive. Any critic should follow Ms. Orange for one hour on campus, and that will tell them everything they need to know about the quality and focus of her engaged leadership.
    Dr. Barbara Mossberg, President Emerita Goddard College
    Director and Professor, Integrated Studies,
    California State University Monterey Bay
    JMHS ’66