Furr High School students walk out of class to support ousted principal

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- More than three dozen students walked out of Furr High School Tuesday morning and gathered on the median in front of the old high school.

They ditched class to protest the removal of their principal, Dr. Bertie Simmons.

Nearly two weeks ago, Simmons, who has been principal at Furr for 17 years, was relieved of her duties.

She was under investigation for allegations that she verbally threatened students who followed the district's new relaxed dress code.

That investigation has since been closed. But HISD spokesperson Tracy Clemons says another investigation has been opened.

"We're not going to comment on the investigation. The investigation is ongoing," Clemons said.

HISD released this statement last week:

"The Houston Independent School District respects Dr. Bertie Simmons and all her contributions to HISD and the lives of our students, but every employee is held to the same standards regardless of their tenure and status within the district. We continue our investigation into allegations against Dr. Simmons. The investigation into the allegation that led to the decision to temporarily relieve Dr. Simmons of her duties is closed. The district confirmed she made the statements and the matter is being addressed. However, additional allegations surfaced and she remains temporarily relieved of her duties."

Regardless of this, Jordan Davis, a senior at Furr, stood outside chanting with other students:

"Bring Bertie back! Bring Bertie Back!"

Davis showed us a thick bound booklet that he said contains 2,000 signatures from students, alumni, parents and taxpayers demanding Simmons be brought back as principal.

"It's my 18th birthday today and I wouldn't spend it no other way than to support my principal," Davis said. "We just want her back."

Maria Delacurz has two children at Furr. Her freshman and sophomore chose to stay in class, but as an alum herself, Delacruz felt it was important to show up and offer support.

"Hopefully, this makes the investigation go faster because we really need the stability in this school," Delacruz said.

Simmons is credited with dramatically turning the school around academically. The school was awarded a $10 million grant from XQ Project partly due to the 83-year-old's initiative to reduce violence and enforce a strict uniform policy.

Scott Newar, the attorney for Simmons, released this statement on her behalf:

"The students of Furr High School have now spoken--loudly and clearly: reinstate Dr. Simmons and her team now! HISD must end its discriminatory and retaliatory witch-hunt against this phenomenal principal and her team and allow them to return to Furr and resume the all-important work of educating Houston's children. If HISD fails to reinstate Dr. Simmons and her team to Furr by Monday at 8:00 a.m., HISD will have to answer for its illegal conduct in a Houston courtroom."

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