Percy Julian Middle School in Oak Park will have a new principal next year, after Principal Todd Fitzgerald announced he was resigning to become superintendent of Komarek School District 94, a one-school K-8 district in North Riverside that serves part of that village and part of Broadview.

Fitzgerald, who has been the principal for Julian for the past eight years, will start his new job on July 1 and finish out the school year at Julian. He informed Julian parents of his impending departure in an email to families on May 19, just hours before the Komarek school board voted to hire him.

“Although I will miss the relationships I have established in the Julian community, my family and I are excited about the opportunities and challenges this new position will bring,” Fitzgerald wrote. “I am grateful to have served as the principal of Julian Middle School for the past eight years, and have thoroughly enjoyed working with my colleagues, families and community stakeholders to support the academic and emotional needs of our students. All of my experiences in Oak Park have helped me grow both personally and professionally and have prepared me to take this next step in my career as an educational leader.

Fitzgerald introduced a middle school International Baccalaureate program at Julian and generally was held in high regard.

“As a parent, I am sad that he is leaving,” said Angela Dolezal, the mother of a Julian sixth-grader and the former principal of Longfellow School in Oak Park. “He has spent eight years making Julian what it is, and I feel he’s done a great job.”

Dolezal said that her daughter was sad about losing her principal.

“We both were disappointed, bummed that he’s leaving,” Dolezal said. “He isn’t afraid to try new things. He has, over the course of the years, really tried to listen to the students and tried in numerous ways to meet student needs. Knowing that he is leaving as my daughter is starting her second year is a hard thing for us to grasp, because he’s been a calming force for a number of parents and students alike.”

Oak Park District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelly said in a press release that she is sad that Fitzgerald is leaving, but the district is beginning to plan on how to replace him.

“Todd Fitzgerald has been an incredible principal for District 97 for the past eight years. I want to thank him for his hard work, professionalism and significant contributions to the growth and success of Julian Middle School,” Kelly said in the press release. “Although we are sad to see him go, I am proud that one of our district leaders has the opportunity to take on a superintendency.”

Kelley said the school district will immediately begin working on a plan to replace Fitzgerald, including “a discussion of how best to engage Julian students, staff and families in the process. We will keep everyone updated on the status of our efforts.”

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