Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education met February 23.
Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education met February 23.
Here is the minutes provided by the Board:
Call to Order
President Weissglass called the meeting to order at 6:14 p.m. A roll call indicated the following members were present: Fred Arkin, Jennifer Cassell, Thomas F. Cofsky, Dr. Steve Gevinson, Dr. Jackie Moore, Sara Dixon Spivy, and Jeff Weissglass. Also in attendance was Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams, Superintendent; Nathaniel L. Rouse, Principal; Brenda Horton, Director of Human Resources; and Gail Kalmerton, Executive Assistant/Clerk of the Board.
At 6:15 p.m., Mr. Weissglass moved to enter closed session for the purpose of discussing the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the District or legal counsel for the District, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee or against legal counsel for the District to determine its validity 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1), as amended by PA.93—57; Collective negotiating matters between the District and its employees or their representatives or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees. 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(2); and Litigation, when an action against, affecting or on behalf of the particular District has been filed and is pending before a court or administrative tribunal, or when the District finds that an action is probable or imminent, in which case the basis for the finding shall be recorded and entered into the closed meeting minutes 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(11); Student disciplinary cases 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(10); seconded by Ms. Dixon Spivy. A roll call vote resulted in all ayes. Motion carried.
At 7:33 p.m., the Board of Education resumed its open session.
Joining the meeting were Tod Altenburg, Chief School Business Official; Philip M. Prale, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction; Amy Hill, Director of Assessment and Learning; Michael Carioscio, Chief Information Officer; Dr. Gwen Walker-Qualls, Director of Pupil Support Services.
Sheila Hardin, Faculty Senate Executive Committee Chair; Jackie Charette- BassiriRad, OPRFHS staff; Greg Johnson, H. Johnson, John Duffy, Amy Stearns, Karin Danganan, John Bokum, Tanisha House, Erin Collin, Craig Iseli, Gail Galivan, Marie MacBain, Claudia Medina, Jorge Vergara, Rebecca Ward, Tanya Prewitt- White, Amala Papelles, community members; and Mary Haley of the League of Women Voters.
It was noted that people want to make public comments are only to required to state their name for the record. If the comments are not related to the agenda, the Board of Education will not immediately respond. If a specific request is made of the Board of Education, a response will be made in a timely manner.
Rebecca Ward, resident of Oak Park, actor, and youth minister at Euclid United Methodist Church in Oak Park, stated that her largest and most important job is listening. If she does not listen to the children in the community, she risks their well-being. She understood the commitment the Board of Education and the administration had made to make changes for faculty and students by June 2017. When she attended college she was sexually assaulted by four male students. The college stated that her report was only the second one it had received in 100 years. The college was severely ill-equipped to help her. She was offered no counseling or therapy, legal counsel, information on how to press charges, nor what next steps to take. At the time it was characterized as guys’ behavior and one of the male students was suspended for a week while the others remained in school and she saw them daily in her ministry classes. She had needed so much more from the adults around her at that time. Young women are saying the same thing now. She asked for transparency and accountability in the next three months about the sexual harassment policy changes. She asked to know who was involved in making the changes and she wanted an opportunity to offer feedback.
John Duffy was an original member of the Strategic Plan Steering committee and he continues to be on the Transformational Teaching and Learning Task Force. He stated that many good things have occurred at the school since the initial strategic plan was put into place four years ago and it will be five years since the initial process began. He has worked with community groups such as SUA, APPLE, and CEE, around equity and curriculum. He asked to be informed as to the curriculum initiatives taking place, i.e., 1) the freshman reading initiative, addressing students with special needs, 2) world studies initiative for EOS students, etc. He asked if these had a connection with what has been advocated. He asked that the administrators be transparent and communicate with his group regarding transformational teaching and learning and equity, just as Dr. Pruitt had said she would address.
Ms. Tanesha House, parent of a sophomore and a senior girl and alumni, read what she had sent to Dr. Pruitt-Adams, Principal Rouse, and Mr. Prale regarding Black History Month and in response to the notation about whether our history celebrates Black history. “She was pleased to seeing it in the bulletin. “I am delighted to see the Black History Trivia question in the bulletin, especially for establishing an awareness and highlighting our ancestry of kings, queens, brilliance, servant leadership, philanthropic empowerment, land/property ownership and unprecedented wealth. Unfortunately, the value of black people has been suppressed and overpowered by negative imagery promoted in the media and throughout our global societies. I look forward to all of OPRF's celebratory exercises, educational information and activities showcasing our historical contributions in the world, particularly our nation.
“As you are aware, it is a local, cultural, societal and global educational imperative that we maximize this national set aside timeframe to display, honor,
embrace and value who we are as descendants of the African diaspora. I am hopeful that as a follow-up to the trivia questions there will be an announcement with details about who King Musa Keita I was and his significance as a black leader then and now. Hopefully there are photos displayed throughout the school so that all can see his black face. And the old adage is, "a picture is worth more than a thousand words." It is true! We need to capitalize on these teachable moments for all trivia questions etc.
Also, as I suggested to Phil a few months ago, it would be even more impressive to see this kind of education incorporated in the history curriculum (and other disciplines) as a requirement for the masses all year around; such inclusion will transform teaching, learning and the school culture. If the aforementioned statement is of interest and value to you, the board and organization as a whole, let's make time to explore, strategize and plan how we can make this happen. Thank you for this effort. It is appreciated!”
Marie MacBain, a member of the Immigration Committee of the Democratic Committee of Oak Park, had worked on the Village of Oak Park’s Welcoming Committee Resolution. She offered to help OPRFHS with its creation of a welcoming community resolution so that students, parents, and educators felt safe.
Amilia Pallares, parent of junior, 12-year resident, UIC professor and board member of PASO also worked on the Village of Oak Park’s welcoming ordinance. The Board of Education was asked to support House Bill 426, which creates the Immigration Safe Zones Act and reads, “Provides that schools, medical treatment and health care facilities, and places of worship may not grant access to State and local law enforcement agencies that have entered into an agreement with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement or undertake other joint efforts with federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies to investigate, detain, or arrest individuals for violation of federal immigration law, unless a court has issued a warrant and appropriate personnel have reviewed that warrant and have consented to access or unless required by law and appropriate personnel have consented.”
George Vergara, a former teacher, asked what if the Board of Education had a policy about someone being forcefully taken from the building, as he felt he had been after the last Board meeting. He then asked if the Board of Education can discipline an employee for private activities.
Claudia Medina, a school board member in District 209 and on the PASO Board, distributed District 209’s resolution on safe school zones. She shared the experiences of groups that are at risk of the political framework. Many parents in the community are scared and are not sending their students to school. Fortunately, Oak Park now has sanctuary status and is on the cusp of a progressive movement. As a school board member, she asked that the high school put into place an emergency policy so that families feel safe. She did not believe all of the OPRFHS faculty support staff were protected.
Status of FOIA
Ms. Kalmerton reported that 5 FOIA requests were received and 4 were requests
Ms. Cofsky reported that Student Council raised $250 last week and will share that with Roses for Austin which started by students at OPRFHS to provide after school care. On February 22, an interclub council meeting was held for the purpose of trying to get more students involved in activities such as cleaning up the park, etc.
Cross country and track student-athlete Irwin Loud, a senior, has been named to the IHSA Academic All-State Team. Irwin is only the fourth OPRF student ever selected for this honor, and one of just 26 students chosen from the entire state this year. The criteria are a minimum of a 3.5 GPA, a varsity letter winner in at least two IHSA sports/activities, and All-State or state tournament qualification as an athlete. English teacher and head football coach John Hoerster has been named a Double- Goal Coach for Chicago by the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), making him one of just 150 coaches up for PCA's National Double-Goal Coach award.
Artworks by the following students will be on display at the juried Illinois High School Art Exhibition at the Zhou Gallery in Bridgeport on Sunday, February 26, from 12:00-6:00 p.m.: Annabel Huber (sculpture), Ethan Reichmann Crowley (photography), Julia Morrison (painting), Adele Henning (drawing), and Shaolyn Redd (design).
Freshman boys diver Tyler Hoyt won sectionals and will dive at the State Meet. Joining Tyler will be JP Rotatori, JP Ungaretti, and Thomas Wolfe.
The Huskie wrestlers defeated St. Charles East to advance to the IHSA Dual Team State Championships this Saturday. The Huskies were led by seniors Chris Middlebrooks, Peter Ogunsanya, Jaime Hernandez and Brian Holloway.
The Huskies will take on Montini Catholic Saturday morning at 11 am. The tournament is held at the US Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, IL.
Two students from OPRF had their ceramic artwork juried into the National K-12 Ceramics Exhibition to take place at the National Conference for Education in the Ceramic Arts in Portland Oregon. On March 22 -25, Gina Gerace, a senior at OPRF, and Charlotte True, a freshman at OPRF will exhibit their artwork along with selected students from around the country.
Dr. Pruitt-Adams introduced and welcomed Greg Johnson who had been recommended for the position of Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction after Mr. Prale retires at the end of June 30. Mr. Johnson’s wife also was in attendance.
Mr. Cofsky asked that E. District Registration, IMF and Technology Fees, be removed from the consent agenda.
Mr. Weissglass moved to approve the following consent items, as presented; seconded by Ms. Cassell. A roll call vote resulted in all ayes. Motion carried.
A. Check Disbursements and Financial Resolutions dated February 23, 2017
B. Monthly Treasurer’s Report
C. Monthly Financials
D. Gifts and Donations
E. District Registration, IMF and Technology Fees
F. Personnel Recommendations, including New Hires, Lateral Hires, Return from Leave of Absence, and Retirements
G. Pekron Contract for Summer 2018 Capital Improvements
H. NIIPC Commodity Foods & Selected Commercial Foods Contract RFP
I. Policy for Second Reading
1. Policy 6:340, Student testing and Assessment Program
J. Open and Closed Session Minutes December 13, 2016, January 26
and 31, and February 14, 2017, and declaration that the closed session audiotapes of July 2015 be destroyed
District Registration, IMF and Technology Fees
Mr. Weissglass moved to approve the District Registration, IMF and IMF and Technology Fees, as presented; seconded by Ms. Dixon Spivy. Fees
Mr. Cofsky felt that the technology fee should be borne by the district and then would not support the motion. Dr. Moore had wanted information about students who did not fall into the Free and Reduced Lunch categories and discussion about offering subsidies. Administration reported that approximately 750 students fell into the FRL category and about a dozen waivers were requested.
A roll call vote resulted in 4 ayes and 3 nays. Motion carried.
Community Council (formerly Citizens’ Council)
Karin Danganan, co-chair of Community Council provided an update on the bylaws and name change. The last time a change was made to the bylaws was in 2003-04. As such they have been amended to reflect the timing of officers and the recruiting of new members. In the 1950’s a group called citizens’ council existed and its main purpose was to suppress people of color. There is no belief that OPRFHS had any connection to that group, but the members wanted to eliminate any negative connotations that its name might have. The name
“Community Council” truly reflects what this group is. This change had been communicated with Mr. Weissglass and Dr. Gevinson.
Ms. Cassell thanked Ms. Danganan and Ms. Daniels and the leadership of Community Council for making this change. She has been concerned about since first hearing about it and she raised it with the prior district leadership. She thanked Dr. Pruitt-Adams for naming it and taking some ownership. Mr. Weissglass thanked Ms. Cassell for bringing it to his attention.
Community Council has 45 members. Previously, anyone who completes a 2- year term is automatically recommended for a second term. The bylaws now state that if a member attends less than fifty percent of the meetings and has not reached out to the leadership about being absent, no longer is there the requirement that his/her membership must be renewed. The Board of Education’s role is only advisory and does not have to vote on any bylaw changes. Community Council voted on this February 9, 2017. A two-thirds approval of the membership was required and the vote was unanimous.
Audit Report Mr. Weissglass moved to accept the Audit Report for FY’ 2017 as presented; seconded by Ms. Cassell. A roll call vote resulted in all ayes. Motion carried.
Welcoming Dr. Pruitt-Adams stated that in response to recent executive orders relative to Community deportation priorities, school districts and communities have concerns about
keeping their families safe. She had explored OPRFHS’s policies and procedures relative to the school being a safe haven, noting that many have legal references regarding immigration investigation, current practice and what to do to move forward. However, not all of the questions have been answered in the following policies. 1:02 Human Dignity 4:10 Equal Education (Fiscal and Business Management) 5:10 Equal Employment Opportunity and Minority Recruitment 5:15 Multi-Cultural 5:20 Workplace Harassment Prohibited (staff) 5:30 Hiring Process and Criteria 6:145 Migrant Students (need some reason) 6:160 English Language Learners 6:300 Educational Opportunities 7:10 Immigration Status 7:15 Student and Family Privacy Rights 7:20 Harassment of Students Prohibited 7:50 School Admissions and Student Transfers To and From Non-District Schools (Legal Reference - Illegal Immigrant and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, 8 U.S.C. § 1101.) 7:60 Residence 7:100 Health and Eye Examinations; Immunizations; and Exclusion of Students 7:130 Student Rights and Responsibilities
7:180 Prevention of and Response to Bullying, Intimidation, and Harassment
7:340 Student Records (FERPA)
Each of the policies talked about not being able to discriminate against protected classes. OPRFHS does not ask about immigration status during enrollment, nor is that question asked specifically of faculty and staff. Students are also protected under FERPA. However, an ELL class does imply a distinct ethnicity. The goal is to address the legitimate concerns of parents. Oak Park is now a sanctuary city. Staff, students, and parents are comfortable here. Sample resolutions passed by the Village of Oak Park, Evanston Township High School, Evanston Township Elementary School, Chicago Public Schools, and San Francisco schools were researched. Dr. Pruitt also reviewed websites for welcoming communities and had a legal opinion that would help OPRFHS move forward with a resolution. Dr. Pruitt-Adams will bring a resolution to the March 14 Committee of the Whole meeting and ask for approval at the Special Board meeting which would immediately follow.
Discussion ensued and a member felt that the transgender issue was similar. Dr. Pruitt-Adams noted that OPRFHS does have procedures for transgenders and while the piece about locker rooms and restrooms is included, she did not know if it were part of the safe haven component.
Discussion ensued about whether adopting a resolution would affect the District’s federal dollars. The federal dollars that OPRFHS receives amounts to about 2% of its budget, or approximately $1.3 million. The District feels those dollars would be protected because of the ways in which it is distributed. However, the executive order could change that. Right now OPRFHS receives this money mostly through Title I and IDEA grants.
One member wanted a resolution that provided the most protection for all, as it is important that the District be deliberate in its communication to families with regard to policies and procedures about being a welcoming community.
Currently, OPRFHS has no procedure or policy on how it would contain ICE. Conversely, OPRFHS would also not let them in the building. One member encouraged providing professional development to teachers, etc., on supporting families.
Dr. Pruitt-Adams reported on the Board of Education governance retreat held on January 31, 2017 in compliance with the Open Meetings Act. The discussion entailed Committee governance and structure and Board work versus staff work (building a trusting relationship with Faculty Senate) and communications with members of the school community.
The team discussed and came to consensus on the following topics:
• Effective meetings
• Topics for Committee of the Whole and Board discussions should focus on strategic/big picture conversations related to goals in the Strategic Plan.
• Agendas for meetings should focus on fewer, yet deeper, topics/ discussions, allowing the Board and Administration to have more in- depth discussion on topics of importance
• Administration should develop a process to determine agenda topics for consent in comparison to those for information, discussion, and approval Public comment during meetings
• Board president will read statement prior to public comment once the appropriate language has been developed and approved by the Board and legal counsel
• Board and Administration will identify a process by which the responses to citizens will be considered:
● Summarizing what was heard.
● What (if any) follow-up will be taken, also reminding of the confidentiality of personnel issues, if appropriate.
● If needed, clarification by the superintendent.
● Publish questions and answers on the website, when appropriate.
● Town Hall / State of the District Forums to address major topics and issues The following “Next Steps” were identified:
• Once the Strategic Plan is finalized, align the goals with agenda items on board meeting agenda. (Foundational Principle #6)
• Consider holding town hall meetings/public forums on topics of community interest in order to better hear from the community. (Foundational Principle #2)
• The superintendent will draft a proposal on the board’s role in improving board/staff relations. (Foundational Principle #4)
Dr. Pruitt-Adams stated that following the September 29, 2016, Board of Education Strategic Plan Retreat, the Board charged the Superintendent to move the strategic plan towards full implementation. Since that time (October through December 2016), informational meetings were held with members of the original Strategic Plan Steering Committee (2013 unapproved) and members of the faculty and staff. In January of 2017, a committee of citizens (Oak Park and River Forest), parents, faculty, staff, representatives from District 97 and District 90, and administrators met.
The Climate, Culture, and Behavior (CCB) is a Board-appointed committee that was formed on January 28, 2016, to study and make recommendations to improve OPRFHS’s culture and climate with the goal of eliminating disproportionate discipline for students of color. The committee consists of board members, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and parents. While both committees work in isolation of each other, the core of the work for both is the strategic plan, the implementation of strategies and actions, and evaluation.
Over the course of the 2016–2017 school year, the Strategic Plan Moving Toward Full Implementation and CCB committees have worked diligently and aggressively with the intent of bringing recommendations to the Board for approval and implementation beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.
Strategic Plan Timeline:
January – Institute Day SOAR Activity Work at Hand February – SMART Goals- Filling in the Gaps March - SMART Goals review and 2017 – 2018 Focus April – Review of Goals, Actions, Evidence, Time, Funding Source, and Owner May - Presentation to the Board of Education)
August – Framing the Work
September – Defining Our Work
October – Restorative Justice in a High School Setting
November – Current Initiatives to Improving Equity in the Discipline Process, CCB Mission Statement
December – Restorative Justice at OPRF
January – Overview of PBIS / PBIS Initiative in Practice at OPRFHS
February – Preparing Recommendations
March – Brainstorming Recommendations and Mission Statement Discuss Final Draft of Recommendations
April 24- Special Board Meeting to Present Recommendations
Mr. Weissglass stated that he would describe the original unapproved Strategic Plan as being the recommendations from the advisory committee. Dr. Pruitt- Adams suggested approving the Plan at a Special Board Meeting between April 27 and May 2.
Ms. Dixon Spivy, chair of the CCB, thanked Dr. Pruitt-Adams for her leadership on this committee. Mr. Weissglass thanked the other board members who participated on this committee for their commitment as well.
Note: the next regular Board meeting will be Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
District Liaison reports were imbedded in the agenda.
At 9:02 p.m., Dr. Gevinson moved to enter closed session for the purpose of
discussing Student Disciplinary Cases; seconded by Mr. Arkin. A roll call vote resulted in 6 ayes and 1 nay. Mr. Cofsky voted nay. Motion carried.
At 9:23 p.m., the Board resumed the open session.
At 9:23 p.m. on February 23, 2017, Mr. Weissglass moved to adjourn the Special Board Meeting; seconded by Ms. Dixon Spivy. A voice vote resulted in all ayes. Motion carried.
Organizations in this Story
201 N Scoville Ave.
Oak Park, IL - 60302