Washington HS Local School Council calls for Tuesday vote on keeping principal

SHARE Washington HS Local School Council calls for Tuesday vote on keeping principal
SHARE Washington HS Local School Council calls for Tuesday vote on keeping principal

The Local School Council at George Washington High School called a meeting for Tuesday evening to officially consider the contract of a principal some say has transformed the school into a model for the district, but others just want gone.

The vote to retain or not retain principal Kevin Gallick must be completed by February, but it will be addressed Tuesday night, according to the special meeting’s agenda.

School community members say the relationship between Gallick and the LSC, tasked with choosing the principal and governing the school as representatives of parents, teachers, staff and community, grew tense after 2014 when some new LSC members were elected to serve.

Gallick took the helm of the far Southeast Side neighborhood high school in July 2012. His contract ends June 30.

In a Dec. 2 email to the school community, he said that the principal evaluation process conducted by the Local School Council was “used as a political tool which has been employed and manipulated by a few for the benefit of a few,” so he would not seek a second contract.

“This is something that my wife and I have been discussing since last spring, when tensions within the Local School Council were particularly strained,” he wrote. “I fear my desire to serve you and your support for my leadership has caused undue strain and could potentially distract people from what’s most important — STUDENT SUCCESS.”

Since 2012, Washington’s student demographics have not changed, yet graduation rates have risen from 71 percent to 78 percent in 2014, CPS stats show. College enrollment has increased from 42 percent to 59 percent, and enrollment in Advanced Placement courses has risen from 5 percent to more than 20 percent. Scholarships its students have earned also jumped from $2.2 million to $9.3 million in 2015.

The council members recently evaluated Gallick and then had to vote on their results. In a split vote, they approved unfavorable findings.

“I have no qualms telling you that I voted against the evaluation given to Principal Gallick by the LSC,” said Rosalind Tenorio, a teacher rep who resigned from the council Monday. “The evaluation was a average taken from all our evaluations. I do not think my evaluation was represented in the average because, obviously, I was outnumbered.”

Tenorio said the special meeting was called by the LSC chair, Tina Perez, who did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Parent rep Susan McNamara said of the meeting’s timing, “At this point, there’s so much turmoil in the school because of the situation, why drag it out?”

She added that, “This is not in any way shape or form a unanimous decision on the part of our LSC. We are almost completely divided in half and it’s a very, very difficult situation.”

Perez wrote to CEO Forrest Claypool on Friday, saying the LSC was “undermined, ridiculed, demeaned and intimidated” by some teachers who support him, according to an email obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times. “We need you to put an end to the disruptive behavior of teachers and staff at Washington High School NOW!!!!”

She also emailed him in November asking for an investigation of how teachers polled themselves about renewing his contract.

Since the news broke of Gallick’s departure, Washington students took to social media. One started an online petition to “Keep Mr. Gallick at George Washington HS” that has more than 500 signatures.

Recent graduate Deandre Turton wrote that in 2011 as a freshman, “I didn’t feel safe, everything was highly unstructured and there were barely any after school activities,” but conditions soon turned around.

Gallick “brought substantial amounts of school pride and accomplishments, and he’s a genuine individual who cares about student success,” said Turton, who’s attending a liberal arts college on a full scholarship. “I can definitely say without attending GWHS with such a great principal I would not be where I am today.”

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