Yesterday, the Pilsen Community Academy Local School Council (LSC) held a special meeting at the Lozano Library. All LSC members, with the exception of the principal, were in attendance. We finished the principal’s cumulative review and voted unanimously to approve it.
We then voted on his contract renewal. There were 2 votes to renew his contract, 7 votes against, and 1 abstention. This means we will begin the search for a new principal at Pilsen Academy. This was a difficult process and I suspect this transition to recruiting and orienting a new principal will be a lot of work as well.
I believe the council acted fairly and responsibly and the vote count reflects that. Even in the face of difficult pressures (see below) our community came together to make our neighborhood school a better place for the students. Wish us luck as we start this next chapter.
For anyone who has been following my blog, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s been this, this, this, this, and this. As much as I’d like to turn the page and forget all of the drama, I think it’s important to write about it. I suspect our situation wasn’t unique and looking around the internet, I found few precious stories about others' LSC experiences.
This uber-important meeting and our past few meetings have been sparsely attended. The principal has only been calling the parents and teachers about the LSC meetings that he has endorsed. While notifying the public is not his duty, it is the legally mandated duty of the LSC President to post a notice 48 hours in advance according to the Open Meetings Act, he volunteered to take on this responsibility this year and last. This makes sense as he has the full resources of the school to use; e.g. printer, authority to post notices at the school, telephone numbers of everyone and a robocalling machine.
But with him waffling on this commitment, I volunteered to take on this duty from the LSC president as is customary for the LSC secretary. To add to the work of writing and printing and posting a notice, the special meeting notices/agendas were repeatedly getting ripped down almost as soon as I posted them. In one instance, the notice I posted for a special LSC meeting was ripped down while the notice he had posted stayed up.
I’m not saying that he was the one ripping down my notices, but the above situation would seem to suggest that it was him or one of his allies. The motive would be to slow down the actions of the LSC using the means of competing laws and regulations.
CPS Board rules stipulate that we have to ask the principal if we want to post anything at the school. The Open Meetings Act stipulates that we have to post notice at the school when the LSC calls a meeting. Normally if the LSC wants to call a meeting, the principal (whose contract is renewed by the LSC) agrees to notify the public and post a notice at the school. Abnormally, this can lead to a situation where the principal can either 1) veto a meeting by refusing to post the meeting notice or 2) we’re forced to break Board policy to fulfill state law. It is my professional opinion, as a statistician not as a lawyer ;), that state law supersedes Board policy in this case. I would recommend that other LSCs faced with this dilemma follow the state law.
Regardless of how the notice was posted, it was posted. A quick read through the Open Meetings Act tells us that:
If a notice or agenda is not continuously available for the full 48-hour period due to actions outside of the control of the public body, then that lack of availability does not invalidate any meeting or action taken at a meeting. (Source: P.A. 97-827, eff. 1-1-13.)
So our notices, even though they were repeatedly ripped down, were sufficient to comply with the Open Meetings Act.
You can imagine that this process was difficult to start with and made doubly-difficult with having to navigate two different levels of laws/bureaucracy and an adversarial principal. It was difficult for me and I have a PhD and a over a decade of experience in higher education and no children to raise. Not every one on the LSC is in my situation.
Thanks for reading through my trials and tribulations on the LSC. I hope that we can get back to a more normal functioning of the LSC. Our parents, teachers, and community members have been brave and resilient through this and they deserve your gratitude. If you see them on the street, say thank you!