Frustrated Lincoln Park High School parents want a meeting with mayor, CPS chief

Parents are upset about a lack of information released about the firing last week of the school’s popular interim principal and assistant principal.

SHARE Frustrated Lincoln Park High School parents want a meeting with mayor, CPS chief
Marybeth Jones, a parent rep on the Lincoln Park High School Local School Council, talks to the reporters Friday.

Marybeth Jones, a parent rep on the Lincoln Park High School Local School Council, talks to the reporters Friday.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

A day after student sit-ins and scattered fights at Lincoln Park High School, the main parent-led group there said Friday only a meeting with top district brass and Mayor Lori Lightfoot will improve an increasingly chaotic situation at the school.

“The local school council believes we need to do this in a collaborative way with CPS, rather than in a separate, antagonistic one,” Marybeth Jones, a parent rep on the school’s council, told reporters Friday.

Jones and other school council members expressed ongoing frustration at being told virtually nothing about what led to the dismissal a week ago of interim Principal John Thuet and Assistant Principal Michelle Brumfield — administrators many students and parents alike credit with turning around a troubled school.

“Changing culture after years of problems is a process,” Jones said. “We need support in that process, not massive disruption.”

CPS spokesman Michael Passman said Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade was scheduled to meet with some LSC members Thursday, but that meeting was rescheduled to Tuesday.

Later Friday, Lightfoot said she’d also be happy to meet with the LSC and the school parents. But she said she won’t be able to tell them more than they were told at a town hall meeting this week.

Lightfoot said the district must protect “the privacy interests of the students” and the integrity and independence of ongoing investigations.

To date, CPS officials have referred to broad allegations of misconduct at the school, but they have not said exactly what led to Thuet and Brumfield being ousted as well as the suspension of the boys basketball season. Chicago police on Thursday confirmed they were investigating one incident, a reported sexual assault inside a classroom after school Jan. 13.

Absent more specifics, “We feel 100% confident in what we know today that [they] ... are the right folks for our school,” Eli Grant, another LSC member, said of the recently fired school administrators.

“We’re not saying, ‘CPS, you have to tell us the names of the individuals involved and what those things were,’” Grant said. “But we need to understand ... what were the investigations? What was the evidence collected?”

The mayor said she’s been briefed on the events leading up to the administrative shake-up and, “quite frankly, it’s horrifying.”

“There’s a lot of things that were going on that involved student-on-student, that involved adult-on-student. And there’s serious questions about whether or not the administration that was there acted in a responsible way in accordance with policies and procedures that are set, first and foremost, to make sure that our students are protected,” the mayor said at an unrelated news conference.

Lightfoot acknowledged it has been a “shocking thing to the school community” to have to endure the kind of administrative shake-up that has happened.

“In my view, based on the information I had, it was absolutely necessary that CPS act and act definitively because students were being put at risk,” the mayor said.

Asked if she had seen the Detroit video that apparently triggered at least part of the investigation, Lightfoot said, “I haven’t, but I heard about it.”

The mayor also denied there has been a failure to communicate at CPS.

“CPS has been running point on this. I think they’ve done a good job. They’ve made the notification. They sent emails out to the parents. They held a town hall on Monday. I have very great confidence in CPS leadership,” the mayor said.

On Thursday, students participated in a sit-in and there were reports of several altercations at the school. Chicago police officers were called into the school and later put a student into a squad car, but no arrests were made. There were no reports of police activity at the high school Friday.

Eli Grant, a member of the Lincoln Park High School Local School Council, speaks Friday morning during a press conference outside the school.

Eli Grant, a member of the Lincoln Park High School Local School Council, speaks Friday morning during a press conference outside the school.

Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

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