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LSC Can’t Get Satisfaction as Morgan Park High School Still Without Principal

Morgan Park High School Local School Council leaders told Chicago Board of Education members Oct. 26 that they felt their hands were tied by the administration’s process for selecting a new principal

The ordeal began last May when former principal, Dr. Beryl Shingles, took a position at a selective enrollment high school, said Peggy Goddard, co-chair of Morgan Park High’s Local School Council’s Principal Selection Committee.

At the same time, one of Morgan Park’s two assistant principals also left.

As mandated by law, the Local School Council opened up what would be its first of three principal searches that May, said Goddard.

After an in-depth search process involving everything from site visits to see the principal hopefuls in action and open-forum meetings for community input, the Council found two candidates who were unable to take the position.

So, the search started all over again in June, and the council worked through the summer to find a principal.

Carisa Parker, a parent representative on the Local School Council, told school board members at Wednesday’s CPS Board of Education Meeting: “We did not want to begin a school year without two key principals in place.”

After another round of site visits, interviews and public forums, the council once again managed to find two candidates.

“We felt strongly that they’d be our best people,” said Goddard.

The only catch?

The two candidates weren’t on CPS’s list of approved principal candidates.

The Principal Eligibility Pool is created and maintained by CPS’s Office of Principal Preparation and Development. And according to the Chicago Public School’s policy manual, principals must be selected exclusively from this pool.

Parker said the council anticipated little trouble getting Morgan Park’s two candidates into the eligibility pool; they seemed highly qualified. In fact, one was Morgan Park’s remaining assistant principal, the sole acting principal for the school from May until August.

So, Morgan Park’s principal candidates went through the pool’s rigorous evaluation process, which includes essays, exams, background checks, interviews and observations — but only to find out they were deemed ineligible.

“We were just heartbroken,” said Parker.

“We had found two candidates that could do a stupendous job for our high school,” said Goddard. “But our hands were tied.”

The candidate’s ineligibility was even more frustrating for Morgan Park’s LSC because they felt they had to look for applicants outside the pool just to get a qualified principal, said Goddard.

“We were appalled with the quality of the candidates,” said Goddard. “It’s amazing to me these people were deemed eligible.”

The resumes the council received from some of those in the pool were sloppy and had typos, said Goddard. When some pool-approved applicants came into interview, Goddard said their verbal communication skills were poor at best.

Being denied the ability to hire the candidates they deemed qualified, the council members hosted a well-attended public meeting Sept. 21 to get answers from representatives of the Office of Principal Preparation and Development and the CPS Chief Area Officer.

Parker said the council hoped the meeting would clarify the reasons its candidates were denied eligibility.

“They just talked around the issue,” said Goddard.

Both Goddard and Parker have described the pool eligibility evaluation process as vague and subjective.

“If any teacher chose to grade their students on such a vague rubric or a lack of rubric,” said Goddard, “they wouldn’t have a job.”

Feeling frustrated by CPS’s lack of transparency, Goddard said the council has contacted the Office of the Inspector General to request an investigation.

Though the Office of Principal Preparation and Development could not be reached for comment, CPS Board of Education members affirmed Morgan Park’s challenges at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The board is well aware of your concerns,” said CPS Board of Education member Dr. Mahalia Hines. Hines also said the matter was brought to the attention of CPS’s Human Resources Department.

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