Brooks Middle School Principal Flora Green could be reassigned to a teaching position within the district next school year if a resolution coming before the District 97 Board of Education Wednesday night is approved.
Green supporters have pledged to turn out in defense of the embattled principal. Rhonda Stuart, a Brooks parent and School Leadership Team member, said Green was being made a "scapegoat."
The move?#34;dubbed a "Resolution for Proposed Reclassification of Principal" on the March 9 agenda?#34;was recommended by Supt. John C. Fagan. Fagan will retire in June, but he said the timing had nothing to do with his decision.
Fagan said the reclassification was performance-based.
Green, who is two years from retirement, did not respond to a request for comment.
Notification of reassignment of a principal to teacher status must be made before April 1. If Green requests it, she will have the opportunity to argue against the move directly with the board, said Fagan.
The item is on the board's consent agenda, meaning that board President Ade Onayemi and Fagan, when preparing the agenda, did not expect discussion of the issue before a vote. Onayemi pointed out that any item can be removed from the consent agenda for discussion before voting. However, the board, as a rule, does not discuss personnel issues in open session.
Onayemi said it was too soon to talk about finding a replacement.
Green came under fire from Brooks parents in April 2003 after the sudden dismissal of a teacher and director of the school's BRAVO! arts program. That fall, the district hired a consultant, RaeLynne Toperoff of Teachers' Task Force, to improve communications and review parents' concerns at both Brooks and Holmes Elementary School. Toperoff's report identified leadership as a major area of concern at both schools.
Supporters addressed the board at that time, too, to say Green was doing a good job.
Speaking not as a consultant but as an Oak Park resident, Toperoff addressed the board two weeks ago to say that staff morale at Brooks had not improved.
Onayemi said that Toperoff's comments had no impact on the decision to begin the reclassification process.
Meanwhile, the ongoing "critical issues process" at Brooks, led by the School Leadership Team, also appeared to have reached some "dilemmas" identified in the SLT's midyear report in January:
"For example, the dilemma discussed by most participants was, 'If the charter updates indicate that approximately 70 percent of action steps are implemented or [are] in the process of being implemented and the Brooks' survey indicates that all stakeholders are medium satisfied, then why is there a basic feeling that meaningful progress is not being achieved in the objectives?" the report reads in part.
Andi Dunn, parent co-chair of the SLT, said it was normal for the process to reach a few bumps. She would not comment on the classification vote.
Fagan said he did not take the process into consideration when making the decision to recommend Green for reassignment.
Incoming Supt. Connie Collins declined to comment on the matter.
Years ago, a principal at Irving Elementary was reassigned to an administrative post in the district's central office. Fagan said a similar move wasn't proposed with Green because there are no open positions at the central office now.
"We don't just go around creating administrative positions," Fagan said.
Supporters will speak up for Green
Stuart, a Brooks parent and member of the School Leadership Team, called the move "ridiculous," and said, "It's fairly obvious [Green] is being made a scapegoat."
Stuart said complaints about Green have been brought only by a small group of parents and teachers looking to exert political power, and that there is not enough factual evidence available to the general public for moving Green out of her post.
"Now all we have is rumor and innuendo," Stuart said.
"The problems Brooks has are no different than the problems Julian or any other Oak Park school has," she said. "The problems that were there have been addressed, and there were no serious problems at Brooks."
Disgruntled teachers, if they have legitimate grievances, ought to use their union backing and the district's established grievance procedures to make things right, rather than blame the principal, she said.
"I have zero sympathy for those teachers," Stuart said.
Stuart said she plans to speak in the public comment portion of the meeting, and that others plan to do the same.