Chicago Public Schools has removed one principal and reassigned another in the wake of a sexual assault scandal that has caused reverberations throughout the district.
After an internal audit of management practices at the school, Simeon Career Academy Principal Dr. Sheldon House was “removed” this afternoon, according to a release from the district. “In particular, the review focused on the school’s response to past events in which volunteers were able to coach athletics without the proper background checks,” said the statement from CPS CEO Janice Jackson. “Unfortunately, the audit found systemic issues in Simeon’s handling of volunteer background checks.”
Simeon, in Chatham, is an athletic powerhouse that has won multiple state titles. Alums of the 1,300-student school include Chicago-raised basketball stars Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker and State Rep. Mary E. Flowers, who graduated from Simeon in 1970. Though the Chicago Democrat graduated decades ago, she said she’s just as outraged as if it had happened while she was in school.
“I am devastated by it, but I’m not surprised about it,” said Flowers, who called for state oversight of the school district. “It’s not enough that they let them (principals) go.”
The district also announced it “reassigned” Sarah Goode STEM Academy principal Armando Rodriguez on Monday pending the outcome of an investigation. The decision followed the removal in June of a teacher after a student alleged possible sexual abuse. “CPS and DCFS are currently investigating to determine if abuse occurred, and the district will provide an update to the school community after the investigation is complete,” said the statement.
Located in Ashburn on the city’s Southwest Side, Sarah Goode STEM Academy is one of a handful of Chicago schools where students can earn dual credits in high school and college. The 860-student school is sponsored by IBM.
Both schools are level one schools, the next-to-highest rating in the district.
CPS has selected David Gilligan, the retired former principal of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, to serve as Goode’s top administrator until the Local School Council selects a new principal.
At Simeon, Patricia Woodson has been brought out of retirement to serve as principal until a new administrator is named. Woodson previously served as the administrator in charge of Harlan, Marshall, and South Shore International schools.
The district’s widespread failing to have a system in place to protect student victims was first reported in early June in the Chicago Tribune. In the weeks since, CEO Jackson has announced several policy changes, including a widespread campaign to redo background checks of teachers, vendors, coaches, and volunteers. The district has also turned over its incident investigations to the office of Inspector General Nicholas Schuler.
Reached Monday night, Flowers repeated calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CPS CEO Jackson, and board of education members to step down. She said that state lawmakers were planning another hearing in July.
“I think the parents voices need to be heard, and I’m looking forward to having some hearings in communities and at the schools…We expect (CPS CEO) Jackson to be there.”