Brooks Middle School Principal Flora Green will serve as assistant director of special education for her two remaining years in District 97.

The move made last week by a unanimous Dist. 97 Board of Education vote came five weeks after the board began a process to reclassify Green to teacher ranks, a process marked with packed meetings and numerous public comments, some suggesting race played a role.

But at last week’s board meeting, no public comments were made, nor did board members comment on the measure before voting. Since the board meeting, no announcements were made about the reassignment.

Supt. John C. Fagan, who said the reclassification move was prompted by performance issues, said the assistant director of special education role was the best fit for both Green and the district.

Green spent “many good years in the district as a special education teacher, so we feel that’s a very good use of her skills,” Fagan said.

Green joins Barbara Panczyk in the assistant director role. The district had two assistant directors until a Fagan-led administrative restructuring removed one of the posts in 2003.

Green’s new role will concentrate on the district’s low-incidence program for students with rarer, more severe disabilities, which require more one-on-one assistance and attention to students’ Individual Education Plans.

Because of the need for aides, there is a significant personnel element to the job.

“It’s a good match,” Fagan said.

The board directed Fagan in March to find an administrative role that would “make the highest and best use of Ms. Green’s experience and skills.” He gathered administrators to decide where the district most needed help and matched that to Green’s skills, he said. He did not consult parents or teachers about the move.

Fagan said the need for the position will be re-evaluated in two years when Green retires.

Just how Green served her last two years in the district had no budget consequences, as her salary was locked in by a retirement agreement.

Goal to fill post by school year’s end

Fagan will try to get final candidates to fill the Brooks principal position by the end of the school year. He said the same process will be used at Brooks as has been used in searches for other district principals.

Invitations to participate will go out to the entire school community, said Gail Crantz, district spokeswoman.

School Leadership Team (SLT) parent co-chair Andi Dunn said the Critical Issues process will continue without hesitation. The group is recruiting new members and gathering input now for the fall.

“This is difficult for our school community and I hope we can move forward,” Dunn said. “We never believed the problem was an individual from the start.”

Leadership was identified by the SLT and by a consultant paid to review the school in fall 2003, and was one of four subjects last summer that study groups developed an action plan on. Because of the study group work, the SLT has “a good idea of what we want in terms of leadership,” which should translate easily to the search for a new principal, Dunn said.

“We’ve already done our homework in some sense,” she said.

Dunn said the push to complete the search process by the end of the school year isn’t problematic. What’s important, she said, is finding the right person for the job. If an interim were not the right person, even if just for a year it would not be the “right thing,” she said.

Fagan has said that if a permanent principal cannot be found for Brooks by the end of the school year, an interim would be appointed.

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