Chicago Public Schools leaders and elected officials met seven months ago to celebrate the renaming of Lakeview Elementary School in honor of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. It was heralded as a model of what can sometimes be achieved.
Now, just weeks into the new school year, the community at Tubman Elementary seems divided. The number of enrollees decreased by about 100 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, Tubman’s principal is accused of handling student safety complaints. About three months ago, Tubman’s local school council called on his CEO of CPS, Pedro Martínez, to initiate dismissal proceedings against his Principal Kimberly Gibson, although various investigations of his CPS There was no solution until it was done.
At Wednesday’s virtual LSC meeting, some parents called for more transparency about safety claims and the steps CPS is taking to improve school culture.
“It’s really hard to be a Tubman parent right now,” parent Dana Kerman said at an LSC meeting that lasted nearly four hours. ) The network feels like it puts no effort or resources into us, and I don’t think this remedial support that’s been mentioned so many times is offered, given, or coached. not.”
Boasting an International Baccalaureate curriculum, Tubman Elementary School was formerly known as Luis Agassi Elementary School. The school officially dropped the name of the racist Swiss-American biologist in a March 2021 Chicago Board of Education vote.
Communities celebrated signs for new schools in February, especially in the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, to other CPS schools seeking to abolish racist and misogynistic schools of the same name. Inspired.
At Tubman, the goodwill generated by the name change did not last long. According to her CPS data obtained on Day 20, this grade was enrolled by her 393 students. Gibson told his LSC he had 294 students enrolled as of Tuesday. At least a dozen staff members also left.
Near the end of last school year, Tubman officials wrote to the LSC outlining their concerns. This includes a lack of leadership on a “large number” of staff complaints about employees and a lack of “follow-through” on student complaints.
An undated letter signed by ‘Tubman Staff’, obtained by the Tribune, reads: ‘Those of us staying are disappointed, exhausted, and having the same problem for another year with little accountability or oversight. I fear that “We are also deeply concerned about bringing new staff into this divided community who are unaware of the challenges we face under this leader.”
Gibson did not respond to the Tribune’s request for comment. Tubman LSC has voted to give Gibson his four-year principal contract, which he will start in August 2021.
LSC members have carefully avoided publicly disclosing details of safety complaints at council meetings. At a May meeting, an LSC representative said Gibson had not notified her CPS’ Office of Student Protection and Title IX about the “multiple” safety complaints she allegedly received. Instead, the office was allegedly notified by parents and clinicians. Gibson said she was following all proper reporting procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.
At a special LSC meeting on June 30, parent representative Laurie Bietz lamented the lack of communication between parents and the LSC about the allegations that rocked Tubman.
“Our hands are incredibly frustratingly tied. I can’t tell you about all these issues because I have all the information. I have the information because I was one of the people who submitted one,” Viets said, adding that he was mad at Gibson for not attending that meeting. Viets recently declined to comment to the Tribune.
At its June 30th meeting, the LSC unanimously decided to request Martinez to initiate dismissal proceedings. He was given 45 days to respond. On August 29, Martinez sent a letter to Tubman LSC.
“There are pending investigations into the principal’s conduct in the Inspector General’s Office, the Student Protection Office, Title IX, and the Department of Justice,” Martinez wrote. We are working on it, but have not yet completed that work, so we are not initiating termination proceedings at this time.”
It’s unclear when the investigation will be completed or when Martinez will make a final decision. In a statement, CPS said it does not comment on individual personnel matters. “CPS is committed to providing students with access to a safe learning environment and takes allegations of inappropriate employee behavior seriously,” said the district’s statement.
Parent Julia Copeland criticized Martinez’s letter for being too vague when she addressed him at the LSC on Wednesday.
“What were the serious allegations? If our school has safety claims, don’t we as parents have a right to know what those safety claims are?” Copeland asked. Said. “Because if there is a safety issue, we have to be informed and make the decision that we think is right for our family.”
Copeland also asked for more information about Martinez’s promise of a “series of interim corrective actions” and “supportive resources” that “help improve the culture and climate of the school.”
Gibson said diversity, equity and inclusion coaching began this week for managers. Gibson said his partner, the retired principal Tubman, joined his community on Wednesday. She also promised her extra support.
“In professional development, we focus on building teams, building relationships, and helping us all feel a sense of belonging,” Gibson said. We strive to create Tubman where all students and families feel safe, respected and valued, and we are confident that by working together as a team we can move the school forward. increase.”
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Gibson and her network chief and team are conducting weekly check-ins, according to CPS, and the school district has provided Tubman with two network education support leaders. “CPS looks forward to continuing to support the Tubman community and will provide timely updates on decisions affecting staff, students and families,” CPS said in a statement.
LSC Chairman Ileana Inserni told the Tribune it was disappointing that the school year started without a final decision from Martínez. So I think we’re all moving forward with hope for the future,” she said.
Gibson could face further resistance from LSC if he stays with Tubman. The new council he met in July, and he was joined on Wednesday by three new parent representatives to fill the vacancies. This includes the women who voted to demand Gibson’s dismissal as part of his final LSC.
Gibson’s parent-representative nomination was not picked by the rest of the council Wednesday. Tubman’s parent, Diamond, her bogard, lavished her praise at her LSC meeting on Wednesday.
“I was honestly disappointed to hear that there was a move to rescind her principal appointment. We agree,” said Bogard, who works at CPS High School on the West Side. “She is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and passionate leaders I know.”
Tubman Special Education Department Assistant Patricia Creer provided a written statement during the LSC meeting. She “would like to thank Principal Gibson and her Vice Principal (Bernadette) Moore for their hard work and effort,” Claire wrote. “Managing such a load during the transition from the pandemic is not easy. I did.”