CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents, teachers and union leaders asked Chicago Public Schools hearing officers not to recommend three schools for the “turnaround” process.
At a public hearing Wednesday night to discuss the turnaround plans, speakers conceded Dvorak Technology Academy in North Lawndale lost ground quickly when its longtime principal retired in 2007, but they contend the school is on the road back under Principal Cheryl White, who took the reins 18 months ago.
Officials at the Chicago Public Schools want to turn over the school over to the Academy for Urban Schools Leadership (AUSL), which already operates 29 turnaround schools. Under a turnaround, the entire staff is fired and replaced.
A number of speakers, including Dvorak alumna Windy Pearson, said AUSL’s record in running turnaround schools has been spotty at best.
“Stink comes from the top and rolls down, and what’s happening at the top of the Board of Education stinks,” she said.
Longtime teacher and Local School Council member Carrene Beverly-Bass said the school’s test scores are down in part because it has an unusually high number of homeless students.
“I don’t feel like we were given a chance to do what we needed to do,” she said. “We have a lot of social, emotional, special ed, homeless students. That’s not an excuse. It’s fact, and they need to look at how we’ve been kicked around and thrown around.”
She said, if given the same resources it would get under AUSL leadership, Dvorak could do much better without a turnaround.
Also targeted for turnarounds next hear are include the McNair Elementary in the Austin neighborhood, and Gresham Elementary in Auburn-Gresham. All three schools have been on probation for several years.
The Chicago Board of Education will accept written comments on the plans for the three schools until 5 p.m. Thursday. The board will vote on the turnarounds on April 23.