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King College Prep principal ousted after complaints from parents, students

Melanie Beatty-Sevier

King College Prep High School parts ways with Melanie Beatty-Sevier following a controversial school year. | Facebook

A seasoned principal who took over King College Prep High School at the start of the school year has been reassigned after a slew of complaints from students and parents.

Elizabeth Kirby, chief of school strategy and planning at CPS, told King Prep parents in a letter that Principal Melanie Beatty-Sevier “accepted another position within the district” and her last day will be March 24.

Chicago Public Schools officials and Beatty-Sevier did not respond to questions about the new assignment.

“We expect to have a strong administrator in charge lead our school while the Local School Council opens the principal selection process,” Natasha Erskine, the council’s parent representative, said in a statement. “We are pleased with the decisions made to do the right thing here and restore a healthy, equitable and nurturing learning environment to our school community.”

Beatty-Sevier has worked on and off for CPS as a teacher, assistant principal and principal since 1996, according to CPS records. Beatty-Sevier was interim principal for three years at the now-shuttered Robeson High School before taking over at King College Prep, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd., in July.

But she was immediately met with pushback from parents and students as some felt she was appointed by a lame-duck Local School Council.

Problems between Beatty-Sevier and parents escalated in August during a council meeting when she said “sexual abuse cases throughout the city of Chicago” motivated her to bar students from dressing “provocatively.” Her remarks were recorded by a parent and later played at a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education.

CPS issued a statement at the time, saying the district “strongly disagrees with Principal Beatty-Sevier’s comments” and would determine “appropriate disciplinary options.” CPS still hasn’t clarified how she was disciplined.

The principal also met backlash from students after shortening the building’s hours and limiting their access to the media center. Her decision triggered 50 students to walk out of classes in protest, demanding policy changes or for the principal’s resignation.

King Prep’s Local School Council took a vote of “no confidence” against Beatty-Sevier in February.

“Beatty-Sevier refuses to work with stakeholders on school improvement efforts, as evidenced by lack of communication, refusal to respond to inquiries and verified instances of dishonesty,” the Local School Council said in a letter to CPS CEO Janice Jackson.

The council will hold a forum at the school to discuss the change at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.