By Rebecca E.
The LPHS community took a huge exhale at the end of school last Friday, after a very traumatic, chaotic and at times, dangerous week.
In all my time – at four different CPS schools – I have never seen such a large, diverse group of parents, teachers, LSC and community members rally so quickly, thoughtfully and with only one thing in mind – to do what’s right for the students.
CPS – NOT LPHS – has bungled this entire ordeal with its misleading miscommunication, sending leaders to the school who sat with their backs to us, were on their phones and left the auditorium sporadically during a town hall meeting. After removing beloved administrators, CPS placed a new temporary administrator at our school who grabbed a student’s face and left her post in less than two days last week because she was deemed “not a good fit for the school.” Then the security tape was released and we saw exactly what she did and why she left. It was never because she wasn’t a good fit – it was because she assaulted a student. CPS has left stakeholders in the dark and only tell us after the fact and after hours so no one is around to answer calls from angry parents.
When a school is in crisis, CEO Janice Jackson should be on site. She doesn’t show. She doesn’t take calls. She doesn’t take meetings.
The kids are furious and heartbroken that their interim Principal and Assistant Principal were taken from their school after five months of turning it around. There have been marches and sit-ins. A massive amount of students left school Thursday and didn’t return Friday. Numerous fights broke out daily. A firecracker was set off. The fire alarm went off. It was unsafe to hold school. It was mayhem. Learning can’t occur in this climate.
I have so many questions: If the allegations are so egregious, are police involved? Why can’t the boys basketball team finish their season if none of them have been suspended? Why was a student not removed after sexual misconduct only to sexually assault another student on campus? If an unsafe, unorganized culture existed for years before all this, why wasn’t the former principal investigated instead of promoted to a central office position? Why was the WYHS Principal not fired or criminally prosecuted for knowingly allowing the swimming coach to embezzle $30K instead of her 5 day suspension? Why can’t Principal Thuet and Assistant Principal Brumfield be re-trained or put on probation and reinstated? Why does CPS hire an ousted Evanston principal who was involved in a scandal involving a teacher giving students melatonin? The decision making at the top of CPS is questionable and inconsistent.
The damage has been done to our school, which is unfortunate when our LSC is in the middle of a new Principal search process. Parents whose kids had hoped to attend next year are scrambling for a different option. Freshman parents are thinking of transferring their kids out. To them I say this: stop and think about what kind of school you want your child to be in. Diverse? Check. Dedicated and involved parents? Absolutely. Rigorous classes? Yep. Great teachers and faculty? YES! Top notch athletic and arts programs? Of course. Students with school pride? Check.
This has been an incredibly tough year at LPHS. Days before school started, the longtime principal resigned. An 11 day strike happened. A student committed suicide. And we can’t forget about the coyote. During all of those hard days, a woman stood outside the school every morning and welcomed each student to school with shouts of “Hey Queen! Good Morning King! So glad to see you, Sunshine!” That woman has been fired and the first part of their day is a dreary reminder of that fact.
The LSC will hopefully meet soon with CPS leaders and get some clarity. It may be that none of the administrators and coaches deserve to be back. We don’t want names of victims. We don’t want gory details. But we do want to know why, when and how all of this happened. If we can’t learn from the mistakes, we can’t grow and do better in the future.
Most of all, we want to be supportive of the victims and families involved. I can’t imagine being the victim and hearing the rallying cries of thousands of people wanting to bring back the staff that allegedly caused her/him great harm. One of my kids didn’t participate in the protest because a young girl was sexually assaulted and “that’s just wrong.”
In the meantime, parents are scrambling to fix this. An active Facebook group has started, a new action group is being organized, letters are being written to the press to put pressure on CPS to somehow make this right – or at least to stop the mistakes, and CPS’s phone lines are being flooded daily.
No school is perfect but I have never seen stakeholders be so united in healing a school.
When we rise from the ashes of the blaze CPS caused, LPHS will be stronger and better than ever.
Parent of two freshmen students