A highly self-centered, paranoid, and scheming dictator, Ms. Li is the closest thing the show has to a villain. She often puts the interest and financial needs of the school before her actual students and teachers, usually to sponsor security measures like drug-sniffing dogs and electric fences. She once braved a blizzard to find Mr. O'Neill, which Jane remarked as heroic until Daria pointed out it was to save the expensive film equipment.
Angela Li is an adult woman with black hair that is above shoulder length. She wears thick black rectangular-framed glasses. She wears a grey suit, grey collared shirt, and shoes.
Principal Angela Li was the head educator at Lawndale High during the show's five-year run. She never spoke the name "Lawndale High" without affecting a high-pitched tone of awe and reverence.
She is constantly using school funds to purchase elaborate security equipment - 80% of the operating budget by her own admission. Indeed, Angela Li has been seen as many as being a parody of school officials who, in the late 1990s, were obsessed with fear of school shootings and compensated with over-the-top security measures. Bomb-sniffer dogs, urine tests, and fingerprinting are established facts of life at Lawndale High.
In 2001 she created the Track-Tastic system "which comprehensively cross-references confidential student information, local law-enforcement files, and multiple consumer-spending databases, all while continuously monitoring e-Bay for stun-gun auctions."
Despite her obsession with school security when it comes to crime and disorder, Ms. Li is completely willing to ignore lack of safety over maintenance issues (Fair Enough); and she's annoyed when Helen Morgendorffer reveals a substitute teacher was sexually harassing students because that put her in "a fix" by having to find a replacement. She is also unconcerned with any damage done to the school's ability to educate by her actions or penny-pinching. The Lawndale Lions football team, however, is sacrosanct: in Fizz Ed, she's only bothered by the budget squeeze when it affected the team.
When it comes to wages or employee benefits, Li is monstrously tight-fisted. She is also known for extreme corruption: she not only allows sports players to have their grades fixed but is actively involved in pressuring teachers to do it (See Jane Run, Mart of Darkness) and, in one case, blackmailing a student over it.
A running gag in the series was the vast amount of money spent by Ms. Li out of the school budget, often without even telling the other teachers. In one Season 2 episode, Li spent the entire budget the school had set aside for building repairs on a top of the line polygraph machine, explaining that she had won it in a raffle. To deal with her inability to handle the budget for her school, Li would constantly force the students of Lawndale High to participate in forced fund-raising schemes of varying moral quality and enact rules calling for all mandatory attendance of all school events that charged admission prices with suspension as a penalty for non-attendance.
Li also was not above exploiting the school itself in order to make a quick buck, by allowing companies to recruit students via workshop classes (This Year's Model) or going into business with vending machine companies that flooded the school with advertisements for soft drinks (Fizz Ed). In the latter case, a combination of too much soda and too much pressure caused her to run amok in the school with a fire ax, hopping up vending machines. She was dragged to hospital but later released: how she was released is unknown.
Helen has both verbally clashed with Li and also forced her to back down in Arts 'N Crass. In The Daria Hunter the two seem to have a somewhat positive talk about women in the workforce, but that soon turned sour the minute Daria was brought up.
Daria has on several occasions run afoul of Li's schemes, and sometimes directly shut them down (This Year's Model, Fizz Ed); Li has found herself having to justify her schemes to Daria, rapidly failing at doing so, and has grown to regard the student as a troublemaker and irritant. (Despite this, she was forced to recognize Daria's academic achievements in (Is It College Yet?)
Mr. DeMartino is the only teacher at Lawndale High who has actively opposed Ms. Li's authority at the school, being the leader of the school's teachers union; in Lucky Strike, he led a strike and successfully forced her to raise their wages. The only other teacher to take anything similar to that was Janet Barch, who bluntly asked about a raise in the same episode.
- Li used to be a ballerina when she was younger. (The Lost Girls)
- Li was a big fan of George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas because he had lots of people executed (see Daria and Politics), and she wrote to him asking for reference photos of one of his electric chair's and to support any bid he made for Presidency.