Saturday, June 16, 2012

Keiko Morimoto Hentell, BHS Principal

Keiko Morimoto Hentell, BHS Principal

Los Angeles Times (CA) - March 19, 2000

Keiko Hentell; Former Educator at Burbank, Van Nuys High Schools In '94, students protested her removal, saying she was being punished for encouraging diversity on campus.

Keiko Hentell, a former principal at Burbank High School who struggled to promote cultural diversity programs among students, died March 11, 2000 of complications related to cancer. She was 59.

After three years as principal, Hentell was removed by the Burbank Unified School District without explanation in 1994. The move sparked protests from students and human rights groups, who said she was being punished for encouraging ethnic clubs at the high school. Hentell, a Japanese American, sued the district in federal court, contending that she lost her job because of race and sex discrimination. She later settled the lawsuit by agreeing to resign without compensation.

A longtime educator, Hentell was born Keiko Morimoto in 1940. Her early childhood was spent in an internment camp that Japanese Americans were forced into during World War II. She later earned a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's degree in educational administration from USC. "Keiko was well-loved by all of the students and most of the parents who came in contact with her," said Ted McConkey, a former Burbank councilman. "She was just a wonderful person, but she got a rotten deal in Burbank from the school board."

After leaving Burbank High, Hentell worked as an assistant principal at Van Nuys High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Controversy continued to dog her, however, and the district reassigned Hentell to Griffith Middle School in 1996, amid charges that she failed to act on complaints about a teacher accused of molesting female students.

Hentell traveled widely, visiting Singapore, India, Israel, France and Mexico, among other countries. She spent two years studying comparative literature in Tokyo, Japan. Most recently, she worked at the Achievement Council, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to ensure all students equal access to college.

Hentell is survived by her husband, Marc Hentell of Los Angeles; two sons, Philip and Erik, also of Los Angeles; a brother, Tak Morimoto of Pasadena; and a sister, June Sakaguchi of Fresno. A memorial service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Contributions in Hentell's memory may be made to the Keiko Morimoto Hentell Scholarship Fund, c/o the Achievement Council, 3460 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 420, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

1 comment:

  1. Too young!

    Btw, here are a few LA Times articles on her controversial dismissal: