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Minutes May 28, 2014

William H. Ray Elementary

LSC Meeting Minutes


APPROVED 2014-07-07


Meeting started at 6:10 PM


Roll Call – Present


Gabriel Sheridan

Don Willard

Amy Levine

Kirsten Esterly

Matthew Christian

Gordon Mayer

Tim May

Bill Schmidt

Patrick Brutus


Roll Call – Absent


Alysia Tate

Dr. Hill


Approval of Agenda


Approval of the agenda was moved and seconded. Vote was unanimous in favor.


Art Position Funded by TIF


TIF funded art position memorandum of understanding, signed by Gordon Mayer as LSC chair, and Dr. Hill, was circulated. These funds are to be used for arts and PE teachers to meet the requirements of the new PE policy and the CPS Arts Ed plan.


Don Willard: Is it 100 Percent TIF funded? (Answer 75%)


Gabriel Sheridan: The determination of what arts are to be covered is not determined? (Answer: no)


Gordon Mayer: Asked if anyone on the current or future LSC could volunteer to attend an important meeting next Thursday. Kara Scott (LSC elect) volunteered.


There is also another event at MSI, starting 5-8, HP chamber of commerce, Monday June 9.


Patrick Brutus acknowledged the return of Dave Adams, of the safety committee, and acknowledged Don Willard and Sandy Jackson who have filled in for Dave.


Sandy Jackson: Most people don’t have copy of agenda. Are we following it?


Discussion ensued about whether items discussed above were appropriately handled from an agenda point of view.


Public Comment


10 people indicated interest in commenting.


GM indicated we would take questions in order around the room from back to front


Eric Mitchell: Ray parent 2nd grader. Concerns regarding PP selection. 3 finalists. Parent and educator. 17 years, 7 as admin. Coach, AP and PP. Importance of experience. As we look for next leader need to have someone with experience. Finalists are all valid candidates. Potential there. But we need proven experience to work from. Want to make sure we consider that.


Sarah Ogeto: Parent and LSC elect. Concerned for the future of Ray not only for my children but for all. I have been involved to the extent that could be in PP selection process. Have encouraged the group to look at data that can guide the process. Quick data points from various sources. IL school report card, CPS web site. Ray has not … trends on a steady decline, in math ISATS, science, reading is no higher than 2011. Achievement gap highest in the community (vs Murray, Skinner, other comparably composed schools). Another key point is when look at leadership, at a moment of triage. One of the 5 key elements is school leadership.


Sylvia Ellis: Part of Principal Selection Committee that recommended the 3 candidates. Came today to urge the LSC to come to consensus for one of the candidates. Offer to stay if you want any input, but mostly feel we are at a critical point where we need to find our next PP. You have three good candidates, and two excellent candidates. They are being looked at by other schools so time is of the essence. Questions about the selection committee and the process, and I wanted to just offer to answer any questions maybe after we are done here. I will say what I can say about that. Want to say I am very proud of the work of the committee, everyone took it very very seriously. Understand some are disappointed, some happy, results have elicited all kinds of emotions. Happy to share what I can.


Sandy Jackson: Sandelo Jackson, parent and grandparent, associated with ray since 1963, when we had some serious problems with Jeff Fort, gangs and drugs, and had ot take some drastic action. I believe the selection committee disenfranchised the schools by not addressing 7thy and 8th grade issues, curriculum, IEP, needs. No holistic approach, just bean counting. Need to move Ray to stable environment, handle enrichment issues.


Paula Florell: 4th 6th parent. Comment for the LSC, agree with Sylvia but disagree that you have 3 candidates who are viable. They have not got the life experience and as a result of the lack of diversity in the previous administration and on the LSC the achievement gap grew on your watch. Candidates are not able to fix that because of lack of experience. It’s wrong. This committee worked really hard, but that’s done and now you have a chance to make a difference. Kids will not be OK with these candidates. 50 percent of the students of Ray that need a principal who can lead us out of this quagmire.


Aisha Bayes: Parent of child at ray. Artist. Really upset that we even have to go through this for our children. Feel it is very racial. It is 2014. I saw cheating and private celebrations of making changes. We need somebody who will understand and who has experience so that our children will be treated equal. Never had to wait in voting booth line with everybody against everybody. You have to understand who we are and we have to understand who you are so there is fairness amongst us all. We have differences but can learn together. “The end.”


Teeneka Jones-Gueye: parent of 5th grader. I have written letters and talked with many and am really disgusted by the process we have gone through. This is a critical time for Ray. My son is a 5th grader, and this will be the 4th principal for my son. Shameful that not one candidate presented of color when a number applied. I understand these people have certifications and AP experience but I want someone who can stabilize the school and have all parents come together to continue to help with that. I am again very disheartened by seeing who we have that you all have selected for us to possibly have as a principal. I encourage you to think about that when you go into your executive meeting.


Simon Ogeto: I am very proud that my son goes to school here and my daughter is on the wait list. I am concerned given that education is key or our children. Choices have consequences good and bad. From what I am hearing there are flaws that need to be corrected. If there is no urgency there is every reason for this to be done right so we have a consensus. I come from Kenya where we made a bad presidential choice in 2013. I am proud of the effort put in by PSC, but the decision is more important than the process. If this is not going to be acceptable across the board, make a good choice that you can live with.


Charis Worfel : would like to voice support for the process. Everyone who wanted to be on got on. Principal needs to be selected. Looked hard at all the people who applied. Urge the LSC to make a decision that reflects the recommendation of the committee because they did the work to select.


David Adams: 1st grader parent, safety committee. I just want to point out that if you don’t pick a candidate tonight, field is reduced. In an ideal world could reject and pick another, but field shrinks, and you run a risk if you make a choice not to select a candidate. Pool might be much smaller and of lower quality.


Terry Smith-Robeck: Daughter in Kindergarten. Proud community member big Ray supporter and was on PSC. Have heard references made to shame and shamefulness and comments that if we have no candidate of color we don’t care about achievement gap. All candidates have worked successfully to reduce their achievement gap. We al worked our best and did not say this person is Hispanic or black, etc. Need somebody who is going to come in and fight for our community, who have proved at their schools that they can make measureable change. We did our best, and I am very sorry that we disappointed you.


Katy Gruber: Kindergartner and Pre-k, and am on PSC. Wanted to let all of you know that I particularly wanted to see, and the candidates I gave my support to, who have specific, believable plans for 7th and 8th grades. Needed to convince me that they have a plan and can put it in place. Positive discipline to build culture in the whole school. We asked each what plans were for closing the achievement gap. Many candidates gave very good answers and the committee did not take those concerns lightly.


Sasha Schmidt: I really believe that the most important person for Ray is somebody who is sensitive to all the communities and identities at Ray. We can thrive under an African American principal, under a white principal, as long as the person can serve the needs of the children. A school needs someone who is going to be good for everyone. We need somebody who is empathetic and compassionate and understanding and who has done his homework.


Mosea Harris: 4th grade parent. Everybody who wanted to be on PSC was not on it, because I wasn’t. But I trust that those who were on it did what was best for Ray. What we need right now at Ray is a strong principal. There is a lot of contention in the room about race, but what we need now is a strong principal. I trust the PSC came out with the strongest three. I did not see all the candidates, but regardless of who you pick, I don’t know if we need to be in a rush to pick the wrong candidate, but whoever is selected, we need to unify and hold them accountable.


David Spearman. 7th grade parent. Attended Ray 1-8 and Kenwood. It was 68 when the Blackstone rangers were here, based on a horrible decision by an administrator. Person who straightened that mess out was Salvatore Vellino, an Italian white guy who would get out on the street, and he saved the school. He presented a stellar institution to Sarah Spurlock, and she presented a stellar institution to Cydney Field. I agree that Dr. Hill was first on both of my lists. I think it is bad that she is not here. Whoever we select, I am going to be behind them. Not a cut and run parent. I’m not going anywhere and however we select we should be behind them.


Sherry Turner: I was on the PSC, and it took a lot of work. A lot of hours and emails. Bottom line, we worked very hard. Everyone has something to say. You did have the opportunity, and anyone who wanted to apply just had to fill out an application. I’ve been here for a long time, oldest at Kenwood. The old Ray and what it is now are totally different. That middle school needs to be handled. Whoever is picked, you should be willing to be with that principal, whoever that is. I hear a lot of complaints but who is going to do the work. I don’t care what color the Principal is… We need to rewind and get it back to where it needs to be, so people are not pulling their kids out and sending them somewhere else. Ray was the school, let’s get it back there.


Kelly Goshen? 4th grade parent. Is there a way for us to know how the selection was made, the process? Maybe if parents understand, they will feel better about it. I see a change at ray with Dr. Hill. So I am curious, think we are not getting enough information as parents. If information is put out as to how the process was done maybe people will understand how you got where you are. Agree with Paula that you not make the decision tonight if it is not the right decision. 3 assistant principals, we need more experience. I worked with Ms. Butler and Ms. Beckwith and Dr. Hill. I am here all the time.


Naomi []: Daughter 1st grade we are from home of wolverines. We moved here to Chicago form NWU, and I was told to come to HP just for Ray. Since have been here feel that it has been nothing but drama. From Ann Arbor, saw what they have and I seek that for my child. People say you won’t get that from CPS because it’s all a business. I think all the comments here are valid, but I want to say that I personally don’t think a decision needs to be made. These candidates don’t have what is needed. I want my daughter to be in a school that is the best of the best. Analogy of a surgeon, don’t make hasty decisions.


Betsy Benito: Been at Ray for over 10 years, daughter in Junior High and two more here as prospectives. I want to second all the things that have been said. It is extremely upsetting to see how divisive things are in the community, then feeling some confidence last spring, seeing someone come in and fix the budget, listening to teachers. I don’t know all the politics, as a parent was surprised not to see the current interim principal among the candidates. I think the other piece is that race does matter, and if you are not sure it matters, it does. We are still . . . it was detrimental to this community to have Dr. Beckwith. She was extremely disrespectful to the community. As a parent watching that it was disheartening and we are a community that needs healing.


[]: Son is a senior and have a 3rd grader here. Been with Ray a long time. A few things. Candidates quotes. Bazar said has not got a specific goal for Ray. Fay says wants parent communication committee – but that’s PTA. Lisa wants to create a wikispace. We have that. What is that showing us as a community? We have a great community. Why are candidates bringing something we already have? I love what Paula says when talks about numbers. Beckwith and Butler could not lower class sizes. Dr. Hill was able to do that. We were pushing 33 kids, now have 26. Almost every class is down in size by 8 kids.


Jim Pueymirou: Kindergarten and 2nd grade kids. We have been part of growth of Ray. Couple things I noted. In rubric, was there any scale given for prior principal experience within the rubric. If candidates are all Aps, that weight has less value than someone who has principal experience. Going into transition period we need strong principalship and leadership. If look to past experience as a principal, that should be included in this rubric. With the person who was in our midst, she had that experience with our kids. I am behind what the LSC is going to do, but want to make sure that the measuring tools used to select the candidates are going to be properly employed. We all share in this. Issue of race is a very real issue. It was a bit of a smack in the face when the candidates came out and everyone looked and sounded alike. Did not speak to what we were looking for.


Danita []: Want to thank everyone, selection committee, countless hours. As a parent I am looking from the outside. That is part of the disconnect. We don’t know the candidates, don’t have their resumes, or have information in great detail. I must say that despite how they look on paper, performance was not that impressive. One read her vision. One handed out generic bullet point that had his vision, but not specific. As parent disturbing when see big ideas but not sure what plan is. What about this persons background makes them think they can execute it? Part of this is communication. Whoever we pick I hope can provide candidates background information. Very concerned that if decision is made tonight this will deepen. Want LSC to be aware of that. Need some type of healing. Could be more communication about the process so we all have more information.


Ayana Allen: Have a 6th grader. This whole rubric thing we never saw. There is a transparency problem. A lot of parents have work commitments and cannot be on the PSC. Just because you served doesn’t mean your work can yield a result that is not satisfactory. To look up on that stage and see nothing resembling my child is disappointing. What was so wrong with the job that the interim principal was doing?


Kara Scott: I am new to Ray, my son is in pre-k, daughter in pre-k. Have nieces and nephews who have graduated. Joined PSC because was interested in what a long term principal would do. Was very excited when we talked about interview questions and what we cared about, and it was a coming together. We tried to get a broad band of grade levels. ELL, special Ed, racial diversity. I think experience is important, but I don’t think it is everything. I like the candidates we have. They have mentorships, and one at least has been principal of a school when her principal retired. As LSC elect I hope we can continue that conversation.


Gordon Mayer: this is the model of what dialog looks like.


Gabriel Sheridan: I have been teaching at Ray, came under Cydney Fields. Would be happy to speak to anyone about my experience under the current admin. There are things parents are not privy to about how we were able to deliver education to your children. At ray, constraints put upon us that we did not have to live with before.


Bill Schmidt: Explained Harrison Peters interview sessions and the tough questions and issues raised there. Noted that all the candidates have been put on notice about Ray’s various issues around race and achievement gaps and the handling of discipline referrals, and hoped that Mr. Peters’ strong involvement would give people some feeling of confidence that these issues would remain front and center.


Patrick Brutus: LSC and PSC member but want to talk as a parent. This is 3rd year, son 2nd grader, great experiences. Whatever happens I will not pull my child out. We had a level 1 school, previous admin allowed to slip to level 2. PP was then taken out of the school. Network chief at the time wisely replace that PP with an experienced PP from a magnet school. She has been her since then. She has not had ability to have strong AP with her, to shape and guide and addressed issues that a small minority of parents have raised. But they do not represent the entire student body. Since I got here, people said “this is the Ray community” and my wife and I decided to become involved. I am glad to see a crowded room here speaking freely. We have an experienced person here and three candidates who have not been principals. We are a school in transition with some issues, but I believe personally that there is nobody better positioned to lead the school than the person who is here. She doesn’t have that freedom, because she is an interim principal. I urge the LSC to vote no on all these candidates. Like Betsy said, race matters, but experience matters more than anything. We want this school to be an academic performing school, and that is what I want to say.


Amy Levine: The one voice that has not been heard is the teachers’ voice. 25 teachers at a meeting this morning. Not one teacher said don’t vote. All the teachers said we beg the LSC to make the decision tonight. WE are afraid to let the network take the process. There was a majority of the teachers. 20 turned in their preferences, and there was a majority. 2 emails afterward also said please do not leave this meeting without choosing a principal. So that is the voice of the teachers and I wanted to share that.


Gordon Mayer: it is our responsibility to make a choice. We need 7 votes to select a principal, or a simple majority to send a list of ranked candidates, or if we can’t do that CPS will appoint a person.


Kirsten Esterly: If we cannot come to a vote of 7, we can either send our finalists to CEO, who will choose, or we say we cannot come to a decision and we restart the process. At this point CEO appoints an interim principal and we start over again.


Tim May: We have 90 days from date of vacancy, which was April. We have until roughly June 30.


Executive Session to Select Principal


Matthew Christian moved and Tim May seconded move into executive session. Vote was unanimous in favor.


Executive session commenced at 7:21.


The LSC emerged from Executive Session at 10:22 PM


Vote to Eliminate One Candidate, Schedule Additional Forums


Matthew Christian: Because we have not been able to decide on a final candidate, I would like to move that we reduce the candidate pool to 2: Lisa Dallacqua and Beth Bazer, and that we arrange for a meeting with parents and teachers as soon as possible to get a better sense of support for these two candidates.


Gabriel Sheridan: Emphasizing our desire to be inclusive of the community before making a decision.


Gordon Mayer: Explained in general the various options that were considered during the closed session and the reasons for our wanting to call back the strongest two candidates for additional exposure to the community and to allow the community to have additional exposure to them.


The motion passed with 7 in favor, 0 against, 2 abstaining.


Patrick Brutus moved and Tim May seconded that the meeting adjourn. All voted in favor.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 PM

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