Mann makes interim principal permanent

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

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.

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