By Terry Dean
The Oak Park District 97 Board of Education voted to hire Nimisha Kumar as full-time principal at Horace Mann Elementary School during its board meeting last Tuesday, following public comments by speakers supporting and opposing the decision.
Kumar was hired last year to a one-year contract as interim principal.
Former Mann principal Carol Young resigned at the end of the 2004-2005 school year to take over as principal of Whittier Elementary.
At last week's meeting, both sides weighed in. Opponents, mostly Mann parents, requested a delay in the vote. Many questioned Kumar's leadership and communication skills. They specifically cited a recent decision last month to discontinue Mann's multi-age program for first and second graders, and not alerting parents to the decision prior to a parent meeting held in March where some believed the issue would be discussed.
Supt. Constance Collins praised Kumar overall, but acknowledged that there was breakdown in communication concerning the multi-age program, which was reinstated late last week.
"I have appreciated her vision that she's had for the school," said Collins.
The board approved Kumar's hire in a 6-1 vote, with board member Julie Blankenmeier casting a no vote.
Kumar, who was present at last Tuesday's meeting thanked Collins and the board following applause and cheers from supporters.
"I've had a most incredible year, and it's due to the fact that I have a lot of help from parents, my staff, and an incredible group of parents," she said.