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Vetting a new Lincoln Park High School Principal: new opportunities, Karvelas legacy

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Molly Horan

I am a recent graduate of DePaul University raising the temperature of journalism in Chicago with wit and fury! I won't work for peanuts, but possibly cashews, or frequent flyer miles.

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Chicago Public Schools Lincoln Park High School,2001 N. Orchard, starts its search for a new principal by seeking community and parent reps for local council committee.

How about this, Lincoln Park?  We've got some superb news to share: the BEST volunteer opportunity in Lincoln Park RIGHT. NOW.    Democracy flourishes in your school district, and the time to bring that back into the schools has arrived.  

Since many eyebrows raised over the hiring of Lincoln Park High School's current principal, now is a chance to dust off your vetting gloves and get involved.

Could it be true?  We think so:.

A new principal will be coming to the Lincoln Park High School if this announcement takes it upon itself to confirm that very fact.   Until January 21st, anyone living within the borders of the Lincoln Park High School community may apply to join the Local School Council's principal selection committee as a community representative. One parent of a student currently enrolled will also join three additional teachers on the council to screen the applicant pool.   

Though the notice specifies the winners' names will be drawn from a hat if applicants exceed the available positions, the committee member will be confirmed behind closed doors.   LSC Chair Maryanne Petritis is the go-to person with any questions, and the sign-up sheet is hanging in the main office of the school at 2001 N. Orchard. 

The chosen reps will participate in: 

  • Weekly meetings
  • Screening resumes
  • Conducting phone interviews
  • Conducting competency-based interviews
  • Narrowing the candidate pool
  • Visiting candidate's place of employment
  • Presenting the candidates in an open forum
  • Making recommendations to the LSC

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Lincoln Park High School principal Dr. Bessie Karvelas pictured with award winning LPHS student and Illinois education officer, photo courtesy of Chicago Public Schools.

The current principal of five academic years, Dr. Bessie Karvelas, has come under several incidents of public pressure.  Firing a popular librarian in 2006 due to CPS cutback orders during the school year nearly resulted in a student walk-out, and the controversial sweeping end of off-campus lunching saw the entire student body restricted from a long-term privilege "for academic reasons."

Karvelas has enjoyed the glory of Lincoln Park High School receiving Newsweek's Gold Medal for ranking among the top 100 public schools in the nation, Ivy League admissions soaring among students in the IB and double honors programs, and a force field of parental involvement. 

Speculation says that Karvelas will be retiring after 35 years of service within the Chicago Public Schools.

The school charms the dickens out of the community in gobs of ways, but as comes with the territory of fostering a student body of Internet-savvy stewards, the web is filled with intelligible student reviews and reactions to Dr. Karvelas' hiring in the first place.

The website Rate My Teachers has attracted 29 reviews of the current principal, most of which weren't favorable.   The blog Chicago Teachers Speak Out hashed out Dr. Karvelas' performance based on the Rate My Teacher reviews back in 2006.   Though one commenter applauded her work to improve the regular curriculum program, most agreed with the principal's detractors, citing a poor vetting process underpinning Karvelas' installment.

Evaluating the school-at-large went down more preferentially on GreatSchools.org, but still anchored Dr. Karvelas at three out of five stars after a mixture of 22 flattering and disappointed comments. 

AND TO THE FUTURE PRINCIPAL:

The lady lions of LPHS might be well disciplined academics, but becoming chief administrator of the school will present its share of unique challenges.   The Friends of LPHS parents organization are constantly fundraising through high-ticket events, and lure donations with raffles of flat screen TVs and Mac-Book pros.   This is prime PTA activity. 

Students present Science Fair entries on Wikis and documentary film.

Representing the students of the in the Local School Council shows the gumption of Lincoln Park High School teens, like securing the endorsement of Dorothy Brown, current Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and candidate for Cook County Board President, and working with State Rep. Frichey for grants from the Illinois General Assembly.   

Accolades for LPHS are in abundance year after year, shadowed by criticism of Dr. Karvelas, like when news leaked that she had lost a discrimination lawsuit filed against her after a pregnant teacher was dismissed from LPHS. (See the comments!)

Reading the minutes of the local council meetings over the last two years brings Lincoln Park High School closer to earth.  Allegations of lunch time drug use and vandalism around Oz Park might have escaped the media's eyes, but not the council's, correlating at least somewhat between the incidents and the off-campus lunch ruling.  

As the search for a new principal starts turning wheels, we're sure the community is bound to recall the many scars on the Karvelas legacy, and tout her success overseeing one of the most economically, creatively, and academically fierce institutions among Chicago's public schools.  

What will influence the local school council in determining a best fit, and who among the community is best equipped to help find the perfect Lincoln Park principal?   The most recent issue of parent newsletter, the LINC, doesn't mention a new principal search, but we hope to find more news for you soon.  

Stay tuned to Lincoln Park Now for developments in this story, and please come forth and let us know how we can best serve as a forum for you, the concerned citizens, parents, teachers, and students of the Lincoln Park High School community!      

 

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