Students Protest Ouster Of Proviso West Principal

Updated 1/24/2011 at 5:45 p.m.

HILLSIDE, Ill. (CBS) — A shakeup is rocking students at Proviso West High School, one of the Chicago area’s largest.

Top administrators at the west suburban school district were suddenly escorted from their offices. Now, some of them are considering legal action, and student and parents are talking protests and petitions.

The district has had one of the worst academic records in the state for years. Now, district administrators are recommending major changes. To some, their timing is suspect, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

 Principal Alexis Wallace, a 30-year veteran, confirmed to CBS2 that she was escorted from the building by security guards last week.

 “It’s like she vanished into thin air,” Jennifer Pettiford, a Proviso West High School senior, said. “(She’s) a true role model, and just to have her taken from the shool like that – it’s sad.”

Wallace is one of four top administrators facing changes. She says her assistant principal was demoted to counselor, and the district’s assistant superintendent of finance, Nikita Johnson, was removed from her office. She says Milton Patch, the principal of Proviso East, was told he would be out the end of the year.

In a statement, school board president Chris Welch said there was a need for “major restructuring” to improve the district’s test scores. Only 18 percent of the students meet or exceed state standards. 

Wallace, though, accuses the board of forcing her out because she “disagreed with some of their academic and fiscal policies.”

Whatever the reasons, seniors say the timing is bad because the new principal can’t write their college recommendations.

“How is she supposed to recommend us to a school and she doesn’t even know us?” asked Michael Hodges, Proviso West High School senior.

Parents of seniors, such as Tamara Bowen, have the same concerns.

“I want to ask them ‘Why, why would you disrupt in the middle of the school year?’” Bowen said.

Parents and students were expected to voice their concerns at a special meeting Monday evening called by the Proviso Township School Board.

The board is also expected to discuss whether those forced out of their current jobs will be transferred to others.

  • queen

    My son attends this school and the teachers are ok. The students are the problem. This use to be an exceptional school a few years ago but it has fell off totally. The reason for the fall is that there are too many students not doing anything at all in the school which makes the principal ratings go down totally. THIS IS THE REASON WHY THE PRINCIPAL WAS PROBABLY LET GO!!! IF THE STUDENTS WANT THE PRINCIPAL BACK THEN TAKE CARE OF YOUR BUSINESS TO BRING THE SCHOOLS RATINGS BACK UP!!!!

    • T'Keyah Swilley

      ok first things first, you dont even know what you are talking about. YES I DO ATTEND PROVISO WEST! It has nothing to with the students, its all the people thats on the boared! How dare they let my principle go because of what she believe in!!!?? You cant make a student come to school and do work #1. #2 Proviso West always gets the short end of the stick no matter how you put it! Thank You!

      • JC

        “It has nothing to with the students, its all the people thats on the boared”

        Based on your inability to spell and form proper sentences i would say maybe it was time for her to go

  • Bernice Conlin

    Mrs. Wallace is great!! They should protest! I put three kids through Proviso West and they love Mrs. Wallace. I believe that she would always look out for the students best interest and thats what a good principle should do.

  • queen

    Bernice, I do agree that Mrs Wallace is great but the students protesting need to make sure there doing there part also. She does look out for the interest of the students so they need to make sure they have her best interest at hand also. This school is probably totally different if your kids have been gone longer than two years!!!!!!!

    • Unique Young

      WE ARE !!!!

  • Carlos

    queen, the school, unfortunately, has not been “exceptional” for some time. The problem includes what the area elementary and middle schools produce and a lack of support from the community to hold the board of education accountable for little or no progress. There is a special board meeting tonight at 7 at PMSA (Roosevelt and 1st) regarding the change and the board usually meets every 2nd Monday of the month (Dist 209 covers Proviso East, West and the Math and Science Academy). Community support is crucial when it comes to how the schools perform!

  • Robin Smith

    okay I’m a Alumni from the school….I agree that there are some students thats their walking the halls… So when you say they kids are the problem you need to re-anaylize the situation.You have some Teachers that their are only there for a pay check.. Mrs. Wallace on the other hand is there for the students even before she was a Principal.. She was like a Parent to some.. And if the students see that the school Board dont care, why should the care… But since you say that the school has “FELL OFF” totally have you once went to a school board meeting or the school to complain…So my response to you is Don’t wait till it hit the fan to get on the INTERNET to complain… If you feel that the school is bad WHY keep your child there….

  • R Marie

    I went to this school and worked at this school. It is time for change!!!! The whole township needs to be rebuilt…. New principals, Superintendent everything

    • R

      I agree based on what I have heard. I am a gradute of Proviso East from the early 70’s when it was still a great school. We need to start over with new leadership and administration including many teachers who have let this once great district fall into total disarray. The standards need to raised so that excellant is expected in all aspects includng social conduct and respect.

  • Miss Morris

    As an alumni of Proviso West I resent the comments that are being made about the students there. I admit west is not the greatest school in the district and there are some bad apples but what school doesnt have its flaws? I can only speak for myself and the many friends that graduated from west that we did learn to make the most out of being there. And to be fair, you did send your children there so I would hope that you would be as supportive of this school as you can. In addition, I applaud thosr students who cared enough to fight for what they believe in. As long as the situation stays nonviolent, I say continue to make a difference for your school and dont stop until your voices are heard. One thing the teachers at west taught me was if I dont stand for something, then I will fall for
    anything. Mrs. Wallace was not a principal when I attended but she was a dean and I respected her and appreciated her effort to impact the lives of these students. From the reaction of students and faculty, she was obviously making a difference
    their lives and who is anyone to take that away from these kids. Im appalled! And if you attended or have children attend PW, support these kids and their effort to bring Mrs. Wallace back.

  • jeff

    Yes was time for her to leave , students liked her because she was so easy on them. They need discipline and structure. Good ridance time to turn this school around..

    • Unique Young

      No need for the negativity & Mrs. Wallace not easy on none of us ! She told us what we needed to hear & gave instructions to us and majority followd when she gave those instructions the first time !

    • Ms. DT

      I have never known Mrs. Wallace to be EASY on any student. Not now and definitely not back when I attended the Proviso West. You surely do not know what you are talking about. If you think someone other than her can discipline those students better than her I would Love to see who can effectively take her place. They no longer have any respect for the School Board and anyone who attempts to fill her shoes are in for a rude awakening.

  • V

    I went to this school and graduated in 1995. It was horrible then and from my understanding, it’s even worse. This hasn’t been a good school since the some time in the 80’s. It’s not the principal’s fault and I don’t blame the students either. It’s the parents fault. Teach your children values and they will follow those values even when you are not around. It’s not the school’s job to teach your children how to behave, it’s YOUR job. If your kids aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing, then look at yourself not the principal and not the teachers. YOURSELF. Nothing gets fixed by trying to blame someone else, take responsibility for yourself and your children.

    • Grace

      V, I couldn’t agree more. I too graduated from the hell hole that is Proviso West in 1995. As you stated, the school has not been good for more than two decades. I hated every minute of my time at Proviso West but by the grace of God I went on, graduated from college and made a wonderful life for myself despite the four years of torture spent in that cesspool of underachievement and ignorance. No administrators or teachers will be able to help that place until the social fabric of the communities changes.

      • V

        Grace, I hated it too. Couldn’t wait to get out. I too went on to college. It just drives me crazy that all people want to do is blame and not take any responsibility. I must know you if we graduated the same year.

  • DeCarlo Shearrill

    Has Mrs Wallace made a statement? Has anyone heard anything from Mrs Wallace regarding her reassignment? Maybe the arrangement was reached by mutual agreement…

  • Tweets that mention Students Protest Proviso West Principal’s Ouster « CBS Chicago --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by CBS 2 Chicago and WBBM Newsradio 780, 91Jayhawk. 91Jayhawk said: RT @cbs2chicago: Students Protest Proviso West Principal’s Ouster […]

  • bystander

    CBS should also look into the removal of Assistant Superintendent of finance & Operations Nikta Johnson as well as the movement of Principal Ed Moyer from the academy (PMSA) to a district office position while not naming a new principal but asking assistant principal Dr. Cloe Frankiewicz to act as Interim. Also do not forget the district laid off 58 teachers last year to close a 6 million dollar budget gab. District 209 is corrupt from the top down. If the tax payers really new what happened inside of 209 they would move.

    • Pat

      Bystander I agree. Knowing Nikita personally, I can attest for her professionalism and intellect. She has a PhD as well as a CPA. She is also an alumni of Proviso West High School. For someone to graduate from this school, achieve the academic excellence that Nikita has, and not be given the opportunity to pass on some of those attributes to others is a sad statement for that entire board!!!

  • Education is Key

    I guaduated from Proviso West five years ago and Ms. Wallace was never to easy on us. She motivated us to get an eduacation so we could become the best that we can be. The parents have to also motivate and instill in their kids that they should get an education and to be the best. Our ancestors fought hard for us to be equal and to be able to get an education and to vote. Ms. Wallace tried her hardest to change the school around but in order to have change the parents needed to help. Sending your child to school and thinking that is enough is totally wrong. Get involved. During my four years there were three different principals and the other two never got involved like Ms. Wallace. If she didn’t know your name then she knew your face. At first I did not like her because she didn’t tolerate we shouldn’t do but looking at it, it was what we needed and the current and future students need an involved principal so they can see that the principal is not just collecting money but cares for our future. She always would say Nihil Nisi Optimum because she wanted us to be nothing but the best

  • Michael

    My family and I live in the Proviso high school district, but when it was time for our daughter to start high school, Proviso West was not even an option. Gangs, drugs, horrible dropout rate, and abysmal test scores are only the beginning of the problems in the district. We had to sacrifice to send our daughter to private high school, all while paying taxes into this corrupt, inferior school district. I don’t know about this principal, but the entire Proviso administration should be fired. This would be a start, anyway.

  • JEFF

    Fire everyone , right on!!!!

    • Ms. DT

      OK I can agree with the removal of EVERYONE but to point a finger in one direction and not place the blame on the President of the School Board along with the Board Members where apparently misjudgement has been taking place for several years is not fair. I know that Mrs. Wallace really cares for her students and she means business but she could not do it ALONE. I wholeheartedly believe that there are many teachers employed at both schools only to receive a check and they mean no good to these children.

  • Will

    If the students really are concerned then they should illustrate their point by coming to school prepared to learn. They come to school with atttitudes that have nothing to do with learning.
    we have allheard about the corruption that exists within that district but nothing has happened and nothing will change.

  • Della

    The bigger picture or the THE PROBLEM is the Board of Education! Starting with the Board President, Chris Welch has to go! That’s it and that’s all! If you do your research, you will see a DECLINE in morale and test scores since he has been madame President!

    Parents have to VOTE!

    • proudPWalumni

      Proviso West High School Falling |
      Petition to Unseat Standing School Board President of Proviso Township District 209…

  • MOM


  • jeff

    Yes , if the students worked harder maybe she’d still be around, now that she’s gone they are all up in arms. Sorry too late .. nothing but gangs and drugs there .

    • Blue

      Excuse me Jeff, I’m not quite sure if you know anything about Proviso West High School because you would know that Proviso West High School Represents ” Nothing But The Best” Its people like yourself that make it hard for students who do attend Proviso West High School. You come up with all these assumptions about gangs and drugs within the High School have you ever stopped in to one of the many events put on by the students of Proviso West ,If not you probably should. They will show you just how smart they really are. Being A recent graduate of Proviso West Class of 2009 I know that Ms. Wallace has done her best and Proviso West High School will always continue to excel due to her influence. Trust me the Currents and Alumni Students of Proviso West High School Are putting in a great deal of effort to Bring Her Back.

      • Jeff

        Sorry , i would be afraid I’d get shot , no I haven’t been to a event there ..

      • Josh

        I totally agree with you ” WE Are Nothing But The Best”! Thank You

    • Takieshyanna Theethö-Weethö Banks

      Uhmmm excuse me Jeff!!! I am a recent graduate of Proviso West High School class of 2009, and to see these assumptions that you make about drugs and gangs on the campus are of complete ignorance, and seeing that you probably have never even step foot into the high school… How would you know what really goes on there? In contrast to what you may think, Proviso West is definitely a great school, and Mrs. Wallace was a wonderful principal. She did everything in her power to make sure every student did what they were suppose to do. You can’t control people and make them do things, it’s all on the students. If they want to get up and go to school every morning, they will. If they want to be on time for class, they will. If they wanted to pay attention and do the best that they could to receive good grades and graduate with honors, they will do that. All Mrs. Wallace did was encourage her children to do everything possible to become nothing but the best, and if the students would wake up and realize that she only wants them to be successful with everything that they do, then they would have no reason but to be nothing but the best. Its not the principal’s fault that students do not want to learn. I went to Proviso West for FOUR WHOLE YEARS with Mrs. Wallace as my principal and graduated with honors, never been suspended or anything of that sort. So for you to make assumptions onto my high school and principal the way you do, maybe you should take a deeper look into what your talking about next time, because ALL of my friends graduated with honors and are now around the U.S. in great universities because of Mrs. Wallace being our principal for FOUR WHOLE YEARS!!! So PLEASE get a clue!

      Thank You Kindly Sir =)

      • jeff

        Well you are definitely an exception, congradullations, Proviso has one of the highest dropout rates and lowest test scores in the nation. I didn’t mean all students were bad and lazy just a majority of them. Glad you made it out ..

      • Takieshyanna Theethö-Weethö Banks

        Congradullations???????? and what school did you attend?? RIGHT.. ENOUGH SAID! =)

        Thank You Kindly Sir!

      • jeff

        Well , no comback for that huh !

    • LaTonya Horton Stewart

      Mr. Jeff, I would suggest you get your facts straight. As a class of 92 graduate of Proviso West High School, I can personally say that Ms. Wallace DEMANDS excellence from her students. She did 25 years ago and she does now. But, what can you do when the school board does not back you to the good of the student body? You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about and your comments are a nuisance.

      • jeff

        I went to Lyons Township, maybe I’m mis guided and I’m sure every school has it’s problems and I’m sure each school has good people like you ,, just some have more than others.. Good luck

    • Mr. F.

      Jeff, “Gangs” are so outdated. This seems like an round about way of saying something else. I am sure you are grown man so speak loud and clearly because I think I can read between the lines but declaration is golden. Who and what Gangs are you making reference of? Last time I checked Drug Paraphernalia was illegal on school grounds so if they are in the school who is allowing it? The TO’s or Hillside Police Department? or is it the Principal?

  • Upset Parent

    The Principal can only do so much of District 209 Board allow them to do, This District 209 Board is Corrupt, and if anybody should be removed its the entir Board of District 209 as well as the Board of District 88(all so in Bellwood). Truth be told its ashame when custodian( in distiric 209) is making more than the teacher, Where can I apply for an application as a custodian and make $52,000 a year too???

  • Concern citizen

    Accountability on the teachers, the community, the students, and everybody else… WHERE IS THE PARENTS ACCOUNTABILITY!!!! Start by being a parent, if your children are not making the grade it’s also because you lost all the authority to make them respect others (especially TEACHERS). Take back the role and don’t expect the society to be responsible for them.

    • LaTonya Horton Stewart

      As a parent and Alumni of Proviso West, let me say that most of us are very accountable. We wouldn’t be having the conversation had we (Ms. Wallace and accountable parents) not raised our children to fight for their beliefs. EVERY high school has their bad crowd. However, when the district builds a school and robs the remaining schools of their funding, gifted kids, and honors curricula, why would the school make the grade? Most concerned citizens get the full story before passing judgment.

      • Mrs. Dee

        LaTonya I agree with you totally here. I just like you am a Parent and Alumni of PWHS. Why the hell did they build that school anyway? It was a total waste of money that could have been invested in boh PWHS and PEHS for improvement. What makes the children any different that decides to attend PMSA? Not all of them are Gifted. They are just being treated Special and by thier parents. If you don’t want to send you child to the public school in the district you reside in then pay the money to send them somewhere else or move to another school district. Oh yeah, you can’t afford the district you would rather live in you just trash the one you live in to make room for a new problem.

        If you are not Pro-Proviso then move the hell out of Proviso’s District. Its that simple.

      • JuLisa Monae Bell

        Yesssssss Mrs Stewart and Mrs. Dee ya’ll better speak!!!!!!!!!!


        I a PMSA student wud like 4 yall 2 keep PMSA out of yall conversations, reson being we didnt hav anything 2 do wit this we were give tha chance 2 better ourselves and maybe if tha students at PW and PE did tha same they wud be having problems like this. Now im not saying all tha kids r like this i kno plenty of PW students dat apply themselves but tha vast amount of ppl who dont r tha ones dat reflect PW and PE. O and anothing if we so called robbed yall children of their unwanted education then yall parents only yall selves 2 blame becuz if they were not doing anything in middle school wat tha hell makes yall think their ganna do something in highschool.

  • DASeaton

    I graduated from PW in 1991. Alexis Wallace has been a staple in that school for over 25 years. The students are very different today, but Alexis Wallace is one of the best people for the job.

  • BryanAnderson1991

    It’s nice to see a fellow classmember chime in on Mrs. Wallace’s ‘reassignment.’
    I’ll say this much. After graduating from Proviso West in 1991 with Mr. Seaton, I got my teaching certification in 1995 and taught in Oklahoma City in 1997-1999. What going to Proviso West and then following that with a stay as a teacher in an innercity school with a demographic resembling Proviso West (actually closer to East than West), is that the principal has only a small scope of effect on the performance of the students. The principal has most power to affect student safety, curriculum, and discipline. The Alexis Wallace I knew was a loving teacher with an edge about her to show the students she loved so much the right path in life. I’m sure it was very difficult to show students the love as principal when she had to be the disciplinarian too. At any rate, Alexis Wallace did what she could for the children of Proviso West and she deserved better than to be relieved of duty in the middle of the year. I don’t claim to know the state of Proviso West today. However, I know Mrs. Wallace. I thank her for all she did for me when I was there and I wish her nothing but the best going forward. I’m glad to see that the staff and students have her back at the end of the day. She deserved their love regardless of the state of the school today. I don’t envy her replacement. It’s harder now to run Proviso West than it was when Robert Milano was there in the 90s. Good luck to those there now!!!

  • Mom #2

    Excus me jeff but I’m very upset at your statement, ” gang drugs and you are “afraid of getting shot”. You make it seems as thought that is what all the kids at proviso west are doing, but let me remind you that there gangs and drugs in, Plainfield, York, and Oak Park River Forest, and I’m sure at many other school, and I’m sorry to hurt your feeling but no one has gotton shot. Don’t speak on what you don’t know.

  • Aaron Canino

    I knew Mrs Wallace all my life, she was like a mother to me, She brought joy and spirit into our school. I’m a graduate from class of 2009, Through there were good or bad times during my school year but still letting her go come on this is bull—- excuse my language. Only thing I’m going to miss about Mrs Wallace is when she say You Are Nothing But The Best she mean it and that what brought us together to achieve.

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