D97 board takes two steps toward removing Green as principal

? Board asks supt. to find administrative role for her.

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By DREW CARTER

In an atmosphere made tense by continuing calls for leadership change at Brooks Middle School and accusations that those calls were racially motivated, the District 97 Board of Education passed two measures late last night, one of which will end Flora Green's tenure as principal.

"The board is looking for new leadership in that building," Board President Ade Onayemi said after the meeting. "We need a change in leadership there, and hopefully one that will take a new direction."

The board voted 5-2 to continue with a process that would reclassify Green as a teacher next fall. A private hearing on the move in executive session preceded the meeting. By state law, Green has five days to request a public hearing to argue against her reclassification.

But a second motion, to direct outgoing Supt. John C. Fagan to explore "administrative options" to find a position that would "make the highest and best use of Ms. Green's experience and skills," passed unanimously.

Board Vice President Carolyn Newberry Schwartz, who made the motion, said after the meeting that the position would not be another principal position. Fagan could not say immediately whether the position would be at the central office.

Unlike the reclassification process, which allows Green hearings to fight the move, an administrative reassignment to a position of similar rank and salary could be made at will. Green's salary for her remaining two years before retirement has been set by a retirement agreement, regardless of what position she holds--including teacher--in the district.

Asked whether she would request a public hearing on the reclassification move, Green said, "I won't answer any questions from WEDNESDAY JOURNAL. Immediately prior to that she told another reporter he could call her with questions.

Sharon Patchak-Layman and Michelle Harton voted against the reclassification motion. Harton said it is not surprising that the district has faced difficulty with the now nearly three-year-old new middle school model, and that Green had not been given enough time. She also said the long-term precedence the reclassification might establish gave her an "un-readiness" to support it.

Patchak-Layman felt Green was not alone in leading the school, that the superintendent and administration shared some of that burden, and that singling her out was not appropriate.

The votes came at approximately 11:20 p.m. after a meeting that began for board members at 6:30 p.m. During the public portion of the meeting, which began at 7:30 p.m., community members, both black and white, spoke in support of Green and in favor of removing her.

Supporters praised Green's performance and said complaints from parents about her were racially motivated. Those in favor of the reclassification said new leadership was needed for the school to improve.

Contact Drew Carter at dcarter@wjinc.com

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