Kabreab Henry said he’s ready to bring his 10 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and his project management skills to the District 200 board. 

Henry, 39, said he started his own company six years ago and believes his ability to manage large projects, stay within budget and adhere to a timeline will help the board more keenly analyze the ongoing Imagine OPRF-related construction currently taking place. 

But he said his strongest asset as a candidate is his ability to “find ways to make sure kids of color at Oak Park and River Forest High School are not overly disciplined in relation to their white counterparts.” 

Henry, whose oldest daughter graduated from OPRF last spring, has been a member of the district’s Culture, Climate and Behavior Committee for the past two years. He lauded the district’s progress in developing an online database that will help community members visualize the structural inequalities at OPRF and put some analytic rigor behind the many anecdotal stories at OPRF — stories like that of his own daughter. 

“We know there are issues at the school,” he said. “There are clear disparities. I saw this firsthand. My daughter was in AP honors courses and was usually the only Black person in those classes.” 

“So there’s clearly a disparity between Black and Brown kids and white kids at OPRF, but the database I’m referencing will allow everything to be in one place where you can find it and see it,” Henry added. “That database is life. We can see how this plays out when we track the data.” 

Henry said he supports the freshman curriculum restructuring that Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams has started to implement, but that, if elected, he’ll have to vote on. 

“When I first heard about de-tracking, I heard a lot of opinions, so I needed to learn what it was for myself,” he said. “I went online and read up about it on the school’s website and I emailed [Asst. Supt. Greg Johnson] to talk about it. 

“[The restructuring] is not about getting rid of rigor, I think it will increase rigor.” Henry said. “It makes sense because you’re getting rid of the practice of putting certain students in classes they shouldn’t be in. I think it will level the playing field and help solve some of those inequities. And we’ll be able to see how this plays out when we track the data.” 

Henry said he hopes the person who succeeds outgoing Supt. Pruitt-Adams, who is retiring at the end of the school year, is someone “who has done the equity work, not just academically, but someone who can show results from their previous district, who is a proven leader.” 

Henry added that the next superintendent must be someone who can make tough decisions in a racially and socioeconomically diverse district without alienating people. 

“Can you make decisions with the students and the community as a whole in mind? This person has to be battle-tested and ready,” he said, adding that the candidate must be “ready to do the job and not learn on it.” 

When thinking about how he’ll govern as a board member during a pandemic, Henry said he’ll “follow the data and science, and listen to residents,” adding that all community stakeholders, including teachers, should have a voice in the process of transitioning to full in-person learning. 

“If we’re able to go back in the fall, it will be a big adjustment because you’ll have learning losses, so we have to be cognizant of that,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re ready to aid students who may need more encouragement and assistance to get back up to speed.” 

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