Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Removal of De Diego principal and AP at so-called 'welcoming school'

We don't know where nearly half of the students in Chicago's 50 closed schools wound up. We know that several thousand never showed up at their so-called "welcoming schools". I have personally counted many who showed up instead, in already-overcrowded inner-ring suburban schools as black families continue their out-migration from Chicago's south and west sides. 

Now I hear that Principal Alice Vera and her AP at de Diego Elementary School have been removed from their posts without explanation. De Diego was supposed to be the city's largest "welcoming school", planning to receive children from Von Humboldt Elementary and de Duprey Elementary when they were closed for good by the district in June 2013. Located just east of North and Western avenues in Wicker Park, Jose de Diego spans one city block in length and currently has 900 students in Pre-K through 8th grade.

De Diego Principal Alice Vera
Rated a "Level 3" (probation) status school by CPS in the latest performance policy rankings released in September, de Diego has been on probationary status for the past four consecutive school years, since 2010-2011. In other words, like many receiving schools, de Diego was no better academically speaking, than the closed schools.

The only word coming from CPS Liar-In-Chief Joel Hood is:
“The Board’s Office of the Inspector General completed an investigation involving the principal and assistant principal assigned to De Diego Elementary School,” he wrote in an email. “Based upon those investigative findings, the Board suspended both from their administrative responsibilities, but cannot comment further to due to personnel restrictions.”
Alexander Russo says that the pair were "removed over accusations that they were juking enrollment stats." If true, I'm not surprised. Receiving schools, receiving millions in extra funding, but not receiving students from the closed schools could be a major scandal leading up to the 2015 mayoral elections. Diego received $7 million dollars in facility upgrades as a welcoming school, including  Americans with Disabilities Act investments, air-conditioning in every classroom, a new art room, a new playground, a child-parent center for cooking classes and other activities, a learning garden, as well as an upgraded science room and computer lab.

It will be interesting to see how this ousting of the two school leaders plays out.

The last graduating class at Lew Wallace H.S. in Gary, Ind.
I'M SADDENED to learn of the closing of Lew Wallace High School in Gary. It was once the flagship high school in Gary's black community. I spent some time there several years ago, trying to help teachers and administrators figure out a way to try to avoid just such an ignominious death.

The Post-Tribune reports:
Despite a $6 million infusion of federal improvement money in the past three years, Lew Wallace couldn’t shake its “F” grade status with the Indiana Department of Education and it faced state sanctions for six straight years of poor academic performance.
That made Lew Wallace an easy target for closure as the board grappled with shuttering schools because of a growing $27.3 million deficit fueled by a declining district enrollment and a new state funding distribution method. Property tax caps and a low property tax collection rate compounded the financial crisis.
Lew Wallace’s shabby physical shape also led to its downfall. Opened in 1926, the school is named after Civil War general Lew Wallace, also the author of “Ben Hur.” Its newest feature, a gymnasium, opened in 1972.

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