Parents take helm at InterCultura after founder fires entire faculty

Parents, director struggled for control after plans to close second campus announced.

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By DREW CARTER

Parents of students at InterCultura Montessori School have taken over operations of the school after the school's founder and director fired the entire faculty Thursday afternoon without giving any notice.

One parent heard the news when she called the school to say she would be late to pick up her son. Another parent answered the phone at the school and told her to come right away.

Just what prompted the director, Michael Rosanova, to attempt to close the school was not clear. One parent suggested school financial problems prompted it. A man who answered the phone at InterCultura Friday and described himself as a former staff member, said the school's debt was "not insurmountable," and that another issue prompted the incident. The man would not give his name, and would not say what the nature of the issue was.

All parents reached for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity, one said because she was "too scared of the implications."

Rosanova did not return two calls to his Oak Park home.

The former staff member said the school was in session as normal on Friday, with the same teachers, and that parents planned to meet over the weekend to reconstitute the school's board of directors. An oversight committee has been formed, along with four subcommittees.

"This will happen quickly," the former staff member said. "Everything that can be done will be done." He said 80 percent of parents are involved with the reconfiguration of the school.

More than 10 parents will join the board, he said, in accordance with the school's bylaws. One parent said the board's membership had dwindled to three, and included Rosanova as a voting member. He will not be a member of the new board, the former staff member said.

Sources agreed that at the heart of the tension between Rosanova and parents was his decision to close the Cicero campus in January and move all of the elementary students into the Oak Park campus, 301 S. Ridgeland Ave., which houses InterCultura's preschool classes.

Parents' said Rosanova did not want to share control of the school, something the former staffer said was "100 percent accurate."

"This guy could never let go of his creation," a parent said. "He insisted on having this control."

Sources characterized Rosanova as volatile, firing teachers without communicating the move to the school's community. Firings "in the past have been sudden and hurtful to the community, especially to those too young to understand the full impact," the former staffer said.

Sources said Rosanova's departure could improve the school, allowing it to better serve parents and the community. Parents lauded the school's Montessori program, which is taught for much of the day in foreign language immersion.

Contact Drew Carter at dcarter@wjinc.com

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