Nine of The Children’s School 11-member board resigned in early September, in a shake-up of the progressive, private elementary school’s governance.
The reasons for the resignations are linked to personnel issues, but the scope of the problem and what it means for the school isn’t entirely clear.
The former members of the board of directors contacted by Wednesday Journal have not responded to a request for comment. School administrators declined to elaborate, citing personnel issues.
“We regret the harm caused when personnel matters become public,” said Pamela Freese, director of administration for The Children’s School. “We appreciate the hard work of the previous board and of all faculty and staff members who are dedicated to seeing TCS grow and improve.”
The issue came to light in a Sept. 6 email to families. Six board members said they were no longer able to uphold the values of the school because people whom they believed had conflicting values were preventing them from doing so. The six said they were resigning immediately.
Members Sandi Carr, who was previously listed as president of the board of directors, Rachel Douglas Swanson, who was listed as vice president, Michael McGuire, Julia Huff, Brynne Hovde and Noola Laguardia wrote that this is a “challenging time” and that “we have tried, as best we can, to deal with an incredibly difficult set of circumstances in an effort to preserve — and embody — the values upon which this school was founded: diversity, inclusion, empathy, respect for differences, social justice, and a fundamental belief in the value of a truly progressive education.”
They said in the email to families that they were not able to carry out their mission because they encountered people who “decided to hold hostage the school we care about so deeply in the service of preserving not those animating values, but their own comfort and complacency.”
They added that to “accede” to their demands would put the “continued ability to operate for the benefit of the community” at risk.
“Accordingly, we must resign and allow new leadership to step in, and the hope that they will be able to find solutions to these problems that we cannot,” they wrote.
Freese confirmed the school had experienced a board fracture.
According to Freese, three board members resigned following a response to how the board proposed to address a personnel matter.
After that, six board additional members resigned, she said.
“Later when their efforts to make a sudden personnel change absent a plan for sustaining the organization were unsuccessful, six board members resigned,” Freese said.
According to Freese, two board members remain active.
Kendra Roberts, faculty representative for TCS, declined to answer questions and provided the following comment:
“Here’s what I know, the kids are having a great year, and my focus is on the children,” Roberts said.
Freese said the school is working to appoint additional members to an interim Board of Directors to govern until an election is held later in the year.
The school has undergone many changes recently after news broke earlier this year that its lease on the building the school was using for the past five years, the old St. Edmund School on Oak Park Avenue, would not be renewed because of the physical condition of the building. The school announced it would be moving into a portion of First Baptist Church of Oak Park on Ontario Street at the north edge of Scoville Park later this year.