OPRF principal resigns

Nate Rouse to leave position at end of June

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School Principal Nate Rouse announced today that he has resigned from his position, effective June 30.

Rouse said in a letter emailed to faculty, staff and parents that he has "accepted an exciting school program director position to begin the next phase of my educational career."

He did not give details about the new position.

"I want to focus on the national conversation regarding systemic change in American education through the lens of racial equity," Rouse said in the press release.

Rouse noted that he will continue his pursuit of a doctorate in education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"I want to thank Nate for his leadership during his 11 years as principal," Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams said in the press release. "We will miss him but are excited for him and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

The press release stated that his decision has "presented the opportunity to think creatively about how the district might leverage its organizational structure to further advance its strategic plan."

An example is the school's creation of an executive director of equity and student learning. This position will help ensure that all decisions at the school are made through a racial equity lens, the press release notes.

The press release added that more changes to the school's administrative structure will be announced at the Board of Education's meeting set for Thursday, March 21, at 7:30 p.m.

tim@oakpark.com

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Reader Comments

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 4th, 2019 7:17 AM

Les Golden keeps making inaccurate statements about OPRF's enrollment in the 60s and 70s. As an OPRF graduate who attended the school from 1966 to 1970, and who has siblings who attended the school through the 70s, I can tell you with certainty that there were just over 4,000 students at OPRF in 1970, and that peak enrollment was somewhere around 4,200 in the 70s. Golden's enrollment numbers are just wrong.

Jeanine Pedersen  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 12:33 PM

As a reminder, the principal position at OPRF was created in 2007, with Don Vogel as interim principal and then Nate Rouse hired. I hardly see how getting rid of the position is innovative. Seems to me it's just admitting the position was really never needed to begin with.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 11:27 AM

Instead of a principal, OPRF will get an Executive Director of Equity. From the press release: "Restructuring administrative roles allows creation of the new position executive director of equity and student learning that will further equity work while remaining cost neutral and keeping the number of administrators the same."

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 11:18 AM

Please tell me which Board members praised this idea as "creative" and "brilliant...."

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 11:16 AM

This also in the press release: ""This structure is, admittedly, somewhat unconventional," said Dr. Pruitt-Adams, who shared the proposed restructuring at an all-staff meeting on Wednesday. "But OPRF is not a conventional district. This is a forward-thinking structure that will allow us to transform the way we do teaching and learning in this school." She went on to add that the changes will help ease the boundaries between building and district, and move the school toward being a single, more integrated team all focused on its core mission: serving students. Board members praised the new structure as "creative" and even "brilliant."

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 11:16 AM

@Peter, I totally get it and you are right. D97 and D200 really need to hire and keep great teachers and administrators and we should be able to. We are a great community and we certainly seem to pay pretty well.

Jim Frenkel  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 11:15 AM

Well, just got this. OPRF will not have a principal next year. "OPRF High School reorganizes administrator roles New structure remains cost neutral by not replacing principal while adding executive director of equity and student success (March 22, 2019) ?" At last night's regular Board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams shared a new organizational chart for administration that will be put into place for the 2019-2020 school year. Earlier this week, Principal Nate Rouse announced his resignation, effective June 30. The new structure does not include the role of principal."

Peter Landau from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 10:29 AM

Dori and Jason, thank you for that clarification. I now see that in the parent letter. I didn't see that in the WHAL announcement. My mistake and apologies. There was another high ranking D97 person who left a few months ago and there have been other superintendents and administrators who have left after very short tenures. Maybe I'm just so fed up with such turnover when I watch the taxes go up (and I have voted for some of those increases, believing they were necessary) but I don't understand why this keeps happening.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 8:33 AM

@Peter, I don't believe I have seen many people leaving during the school year. My kids went to Longfellow and Dolezal was great but it appears she's leaving for a more significant job if you read the announcement and she's not leaving during the school year.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 8:13 AM

PL. Our property taxes don't pay the pensions. It comes from the state, the basis of their involvency. You, however, can count on the Democratic Party-controlled General Assembly wiith their new gov to transfer that responsibility to locals. That means we'll be on the hook for $220 million in pension liability. At that point the property taxes will jump and Don Harmon, second in command in the Senate, will hold a town meeting telling us how hard he works to keep OP livable.

Dori Bernstein  

Posted: March 22nd, 2019 12:42 AM

@Peter Angela Dolezal is leaving on June 30, 2019. The question is what is wrong with the administration at D97? A long term, competent employee is leaving for a neighboring community. The turnover of administrators has a high cost to taxpayers and makes equity and education goals harder to achieve. We must vote out the current board member, Holly Spurlock, if we want to improve D97. We need people that can address the real problems at D97. Moore and Kim need a chance to see what they can do.

Peter Landau from Oak Park  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 7:18 PM

On a different note from the existing comments - I'm troubled with the high turnover of principals and superintendents at our schools. As also a Longfellow parent, I just received the "wonderful news" about that school's principal taking another job elsewhere - leaving before the end of the year. Let me say that again - these highly paid people with important responsibility are leaving during the school year for other jobs. I think that is shameful. Either these principals who do this need to explain why they are would leave short of their commitment (and these are very highly paid people with a lot of responsibility), or the districts need to explain why they are being forced out, if that is what is really happening. Otherwise, I want to hear an apology. What is insulting to me is to watch this happen and be told how wonderful these people are and how thankful we should all be for their amazing service. Let's remember these people make a lot of money and accrue very large pensions, derived from our huge property tax bills.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 1:20 PM

@ Drew. Agreed. OPRF struggled with these issues for many years. When I attended (85) achievement gap existed, kids were coming from the city, two of my friends were shot to death and another committed a murder (Mark Morris - was the wealthiest black family in OP at time - his dad was publisher of Black Enterprise - long story). Rouse was behind the scenes but did much to help black kids (and all kids of color).

Drew Rein  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 12:29 PM

Principal Rouse is a class act. I wish him the very best. Honestly, the man is too good for OPRF. I'll bet Steve James and Don Vogel are happy now.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 11:30 AM

@Tom, your comment is misleading as you decide not to mention that all of these were investigated and most found to be valid. This was also 5 years ago. The article clearly shows they investigate all of these. It's not like the school is just letting everyone in. At worst the higher number of people trying to get in is causing an increase in the amount spent to research them. I also have no clue if these numbers mean anything today.

Tom Leeds  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 10:02 AM

Jason, please read https://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/6-24-2014/OPRF-denied-167-students-over-%27questionable%27-residency/ There are 850 with "questionable" residency. I think we spend about $15K per student to the tune of $12,750,000.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: March 21st, 2019 12:07 AM

My experience proving residency. Although long time residents of OP, my daughter transferred to OPRFHS from an out of state Montessori school as a junior, and graduated that year as a junior, with extra credits (topic for another discussion on the "OP has such great schools..." Kool-Aid that is served to prospective residents). To prove residency, I walked in the main entrance, provided 2 documents and received a residency verified form. Less than 60 seconds in and out - painless. Clearly not everyone receives a rigorous verification process. As my daughter had never attended this school prior to her transfer, and factoring in this school's residency issues, I was expecting a critical eye, with a more substantial screening. Perhaps I was profiled in a way that didn't trigger an audit? I can't speak to how many students might be attending as non-residents. However, as is true with most media reporting, where the minority of occurrences are magnified and spun as the majority of occurrences, perhaps the verification process is arduous for a small minority but internalized by the community as something much more substantial than the reality of its application. I hold up my verification experience as exhibit A. Separately, I think it is important to acknowledge how easy it is to edit these documents. With the exception of photo ID, nearly all residency documents are in electronic format or can be scanned in as such. With editing software, it's a simple task to edit, redact or completely recreate any part of a form. Don't have the skills or software, no problem. There are many legitimate online businesses worldwide you can outsource to, who have software to create/edit pretty much anything you want for as little as $5 USD. Those $5 stretch far in the Philippines and India. While most of us outsource this way for legitimate business services, the software and skills are just tools that can be used to support ethical or unethical agendas.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 4:52 PM

There is a faux progressivism that exists in Oak Park. Why must black kids always be the scapegoat? For example, my senior at OPRF was admitted Ivy League in December and was recently told by white students their parents said he only got in because he is black (they were not admitted). Despite almost 5.0 (all A except one class), 14 AP classes, great SAT, interning for CUBS, starting you tube channel, charitable work and parents with multiple degrees from Harvard and University of Chicago - he is not qualified? We need to stop beating up the very people who need the help and take a look in mirror. Kids move here for high school - its that simple and I don't blame them - That is why data is skewed. The reality is OP has healthy amount of racism - and is not the place the progressive intellectuals (my parents) built. Sorry, hard truth

Les Golden  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 3:22 PM

Oops. Truncated. (cont'd) The numbers just don't add up to 3500 kids from OP and RF. As far as the OPRFHS truancy efforts, I didn't see that movie but I'm assuming the target students are based on profiling. Let's say 1000 kids are targets. We face the Santa Claus algorithm. It would take months to do the job under reasonable time-allocation assumptions. I know they use surveillance, which is very time-consuming. BP, you said yourself how time-consuming the process is. Another observation: A D200 candidate noted the black scores are 20%, below the Illinois mean, vs. white scores of 80%, clearly a grade chasm not a grade gap. But the black families I know don't contribute to that. Anecdotal, but the parents of two kids I know are both doctors, and the kids' scores compared to those of whites. Another kid on the next block is the son of a physician and got a scholarship to Georgetown. I assume most black homes in OP are headed, like the whites, by professionals or business people and have two or three kids. So, who is bringing down the scores? I can find no evidence, demographic, anecdotal (boo!), or statistical, to refute my hypothesis. I ask, again, in the interest of scholarship, what is an alternative hypothesis for the numbers conundrum?

Les Golden  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 3:20 PM

JC and BP: Thanks for yours. I have always said that OPRFHS is the best run govt in the village. I have dealt with various professionals there on various levels and I base that judgment on my personal interactions. I know they have a dedicated staff trying to weed out non-residents. But I'm a quantitative guy and the numbers are suggestive. First, OPRFHS has for decades had a policy of not enrolling out-of-district tuition-paying students, so that can't be the answer. Here's another estimate. Of the current U.S. population of 327 million, 15 million attend public high schools, or 4.6%. That fraction of the 62,000 current OP and RF residents is 2844. That number is consistent with my estimate of 500 to 1000 phantom-resident students from the current 3500. To get to 3500 would mean a local percentage of 5.6%. Without a study of an unbiased sample of communities, I can't say that is a 3-sigma figure or not. But if you look at the U.S. census in five year intervals between 0 and 45, where deaths start the age-sex pyramid effect, you find a standard deviation among the percent of ages in those intervals of 0.37%. That implies a 2.7-sigma between 5.6% and 4.6% , corresponding to a 99.6% confidence. In other words, 5.6% is HIGHLY unlikely from an unbiased population. (https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf, p. 4.) I just don't see the added kids. I hate anecdotal statistics, but when I was at OPRFHS we had a car pool from my block of five kids, four in my class. We had if I remember twelve kids at the school at the same time. Although I don't know every family on the block well now, I can count three currently at the school. Of the families with kids, only one has three, and that was the gift of twins. The others with kids have one or two. We have young families, with a total of eight kids with ages close to each other, but even that future enrollment doesn't match our twelve. The numbers just don't add up to 350

Barbara Purington  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 12:51 PM

@Mr. Golden The process to prove residency is arduous. The first year, it took me three visits to the high school to complete. All our utility bills, except for one, are paid on-line and there is no longer a mortgage, yaay. In that case, tax bills required. Also: a lease if renting, passport/license/state I.D., two (?) current utility bills. If mom retained her birth name, birth certificate and proof of marriage needed, I think. EVERY year. As I gather the documents, I shake-my-head and say: "I don' t know how parents are able to falsify the above."

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 11:36 AM

The superintendent and the principal at OPRF are black, which is great. And they seem like nice and caring people. But then who are the evil people in charge that everyone is complaining about over racial stuff? I don't get it.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 9:57 AM

@Les, clearly a small number of students can slip in if they are very clever. You need more than a lease to prove residency. None of your comments mean anything. I actually have a kid at the HS and no amount of clever imagining makes your statements accurate. Based on your numbers between 15-30% of the students at OPRF are registered illegally. So ridiculous.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 8:52 AM

JC. Thanks for yours. 1. I personally know a former truant officer and he gave me the inside dope. 2. I spoke to a black graduate of OPRFHS last summer and he told me that many kids come in from elsewhere illegally and it's just, because they deserve a good education as well. 3. It has been well known for decades that unscrupulous landlords provide fake rental agreements for $. The best proof is utility bills and driver's licenses, and to tell the truth I'm not sure if they are required or not. 4. There are many teachers at OPRFHS who believe that their calling is to educate, no matter the residence. They may ignore evidence that comes to their attention. 5. In the 1990's a couple people handed out "registration material" at the Ridgeland el stop for gifts for a grand opening raffle at a fake video store opening, requiring name, address, and phone for notifying the "winners." Those undercover people got 47 names, but when a school board member was contacted with the info the undercover people were called racists and it went no further. JC: Instead of offering opinions and anecdotes, please provide alternative hypotheses of current 62,000 popn. feeding in 3500 students when 77,000 popn. fed in only 3300. As Galileo said, observe!! Why don't you go to the Ridgeland el stop the half-hour before school starts and gather data. That would settle the issue as regards Austin. I hope you will not follow the popular legend, which may or may not be true, that the Pope, Cardinals, Jesuits, etc. of Galileo's day, refused to look through Galileo's telescope at the imperfect moon and the Jovian satellites in fear of discrediting their profitable mythologies.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 8:28 AM

I think it's fair to say this has been coming since America To Me aired. Principal Rouse really did himself no PR favors by refusing to be a part of any of it. He didn't represent any stand in the documentary which left him looking bad to all sides really. This is likely the best outcome. The lingering impact of ATM was going to be hard to get rid of. This offers him and OPRF the ability to reset things a bit.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 8:22 AM

@Les, you seem to like to post things just to get a reaction. In order for your magic numbers to be true this would assume a massive conspiracy inside OPRF that literally everyone would need to be a part of which is beyond ridiculous. You are also clearly not aware of the process the school uses to validate residency info. Each student has to validate residency every single year with supporting documents plus they have people that physically check this. This was a topic in an episode of America To Me as well. We really don't need to focus on fake made up issues. We have enough real ones to keep us occupied.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 6:27 AM

I'm sure Mr. Rouse did a fine job and we should all wish him luck in his new position. But if progress is to be made at OPRFHS, then the 500-1000 non-resident non-tuition paying students illegally attending should be dismissed. How, after all, can a combined OP and RF population of 62,000 today generate 3500 students when in the 1960's and 70's a combined popn. of 77,000 only generated 3300 students? Remember, we have a large migrant corporate and gay/lesb. popn. today, which have few if any kids in the household, whereas we had very few such residents in the 1960's and 70's, with much larger family sizes. Dismissing those kids would mean that 20% of the teachers and admin's would have to be released, so let's just wink at the problem, spend millions and millions on creating a de facto dual high school, and rally around the Equity Flag to educate those non-residents, right?

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 5:02 AM

Race, Race, Race...Education takes a back seat again. Good to know all other races have no issues to correct ! Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Im guessing the next principal will be...?.(take a guess)

Alex Garcia  

Posted: March 20th, 2019 4:27 AM

Race. Race. Race. What other issues are important to OPRF students and parents and should factor into who is the next principal of the school?

Jay Ranz  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 4:24 PM

Is he leaving 3/21 or the end of June?

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