What's Up At King College Prep?

There was a lot going on at King College Prep last week, according to this pair of DNAInfo stories, including disciplinary action against a longtime coach (Coach Says King Sit-In Sparked by His Firing, Arrest At School ) and a sit-in against the new principal at the school on Thursday (King College Prep Students Stage Sit-In to Protest New Principal).  What's going on there today, and is there anything deeper going on behind the action besides the usual settling-in process for a new principal (and the usual seniors not liking change process)?





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  • I worked for CPS for 8 years. I was the music teacher at Avalon when Mrs. Higginbottom took over as Principal. It was her first year at the school and her first year as a principal. I am no longer in the public education sector, I teach private students and run a corporate entertainment band and a recording studio, and things have been working out fairly well for me thus far. I am trying to say is its easier for me to look at things in the last differently and with out bias.

    It was rough the first year with this principal. (2007 fall) Two teachers walked out and quit in the middle of the school year. Her tactics as a leader is to bully and threaten you. She had teachers she asked to be "spies". She micromanaged.

    My experience is she was unclear on what she wanted out of me as a music teacher. I asked for a meeting with her about it. She had her back facing me the whole time to a filling cabinet and had no answer for me. She was constantly threatening staff with their jobs. In meetings she would hand out literature about the housing market and cps program for teacher and real estate. ( her husband being a realtor from my understanding) Then she would yell at us not to buy anything if you didn't know you're job was secure.

    I was an MCLT so I had to present integration plans at 2 faculty meetings per year. It's a fine arts school. At least it was. She LEFT both of my presentations. Never seen them. Asked me to do a choir CD. We did a choir CD she never listened to it.

    A total of 15 people were not asked back or walked out by the end of the year. I was one of them.

    She wanted a drum line. The 3rd grade teacher was asked to put to together, because she played clarinet in high school. While I am certified to teach17 band instruments. She didn't even approach me about it. Hello I am your music teacher!!!

    Teachers were afraid if her. She had a small group if pets and declared her self queen of avalon.

    She was paranoid about what other said about her. Often flipped out a teachers if they tried to explain or reason with her and if they fought back for something that wasn't right they paid a consequence for it.

    A the end if the school year I had TWO job offers at two different schools. Both of them were retracted and there is strong suspicion they were retracted after speaking with Higginbottom but I can't prove it. I did end up signing a waver the year i wasnt hired back by Higginbottom. I was suppose to be tenured that year but in order to take a maternity leave band job at Pulaski for one full year I signed it. Then I got out of public education all together.

    I started Avalon the fall of 2004 with 750 students. Last I heard there was 300 and some odd students left. Higginbottom was principal from 2007 school year through 2011.

    That's really all I know about her. I wouldn't call it a "normal" resistance to change with a new principal though. That much I do know.

  • Did the LSC who hired her, spend some time at her former school and interview teachers about her? or maybe the teachers there were happy to have her leave. CPS needs to get into this school quick and get her togther.

  • The description outlined by Musician is eerily similar to what is going on at King. I believe more teachers and staff would comment on this post if they weren't afraid for their jobs. The tension and hostility has reached all-time highs in the last few days.
    Higginbottom genuinely tries to connect with people, but simply does not know how to handle emotional conflicts or communicate effectively as a leader, other than by threat. In the last few days, she has made a teacher, student teacher, parent and students literally cry as a result of hostile confrontations with her. One student told me today that he does not feel safe at school any longer, because of the hostile environment. Anybody who challenges Higginbottom's opinion, much less her authority, is beat down with a verbal lashing, typically accompanied by harsh threats for their job, their well-being or their future. (See the above linked story about our coaches.)
    She has no business being in a management position, much less working with children or even teenagers. How did she ever get another job after what she did at Avalon? Just as Musician described at Avalon, she has created a very small niche of supporters at King who backed her hiring, are rewarded for their support and who report anything they hear about her back to her. Anybody who questions or challenges her is labeled a racist, Uncle Tom, or misguided student who was brainwashed by teachers who don't really care about them. An LSC member told a student on Facebook that "the same teachers you all praise, behind closed doors they would say the students are too ignorant to teach."
    As difficult as it may be to believe, none of this is exaggerated. Most of these attitudes are documented on social websites by Higginbottom's supporters on the faculty and, most of all, on the Local School Council. Several LSC members showed up for the student sit-in, and one walked around the school with a bullhorn during the event. Most, if not all, have criticized students for their action and told them they have been duped by teachers.
    District299reader's comment is spot on. Unfortunately, the King LSC did not do the same homework that Morgan Park did in rejecting Higginbottom. Or maybe the King LSC got exactly who they were looking for.
    The King LSC helped chase away the old King principal by calling him "massa" (a play on "master," as in "slave master") at meetings and challenging anything he suggested, despite test score increases throughout his tenure, his much-loved practice of greeting the students at the entrance every morning and his learning the names of all 900 students during each of his 6 years at King. In meetings with CPS officials and students after the sit-in, the King administration and LSC told student leaders that the old principal, Jeff Wright, knew only their names, didn't know or care anymore about them, and was only using his job at King as a stepping stone to the assistant superintendent position he took. This is documented by students in their descriptions (requested by CPS) of those meetings.
    As students have said repeatedly, LSC members "play the race card every chance they get." This, too, is documented on social websites. At least one LSC member chastised African-American students for proving, by participating in the sit-in, that "as a people that we can't stand with each other." A longtime African-American faculty member sent an email to the entire faculty and staff indicating that an LSC member said "all" of the white teachers are racist, a claim the faculty member rejected as absurd.
    During the meetings with CPS officials, King administration and the LSC after the sit-in, students reported that the LSC repeatedly called white teachers racists, spoke often of "white supremacy" at King and told students that African-Americans should feel comfortable speaking their minds in groups "when it's just us."
    Lastly, Higginbottom told at least 6 members of the King community (documented by a former King administrator) that she "hopes to see white flight" among the King faculty. She told one King teacher that King has "10 too many white teachers" and that, according to CPS requirements, they must be replaced by black teachers. When she was confronted with news that this policy is no longer in effect at CPS, she told the teacher, "I don't know what you're talking about." Higginbottom and the LSC do not seem to recognize or care that King has about 10 Asian and Latino teachers and a small group of white, Latino and Asian students. To them, it's just black and white and do what I say or pay the price.
    This list of sad, unfortunate events could go on and on. I invite other King teachers, students and staff to share their stories. I barely scratched the surface.
    I decided to post today after witnessing a crying parent, a crying student, and then hearing of a crying teacher who was berated for defending a crying student teacher whom Higginbottom dismissed from her post for defending a student Higginbottom was harshly reprimanding.
    It all seems surreal, but it's very real. And we're dealing with it everyday. Please, CPS, step in and make it stop. This situation is not right.

  • what is the lable for a race of people who purposely regress their own race of people--like the King students? Seems like the King LSC got what they wanted to the detriment of their own children and school. shame.. Stay strong King students.

  • Since the sit-in on December 13, 2012 , King's hallways have been full of tension. There is a lot of hostility toward Mrs. Higginbottom. She's creepy. It's like her whole demeanor is malicious and she tops it off with a smile every time. It is quite annoying. I want to talk about the LSC. Why did they choose Mrs. Higginbottom? For what purpose? Because she can bring "safety" to King, fill those classrooms with "pro-black teachers," or treat the students as delinquents? What doesn't she get? This is King College Prep High School, not Avalon. Don't come in here trying to enforce those same tacky rules as if we're some little criminals. Because we are not. Personally, I believe this whole "safety" issue is her school id to becoming a reasonable principal. Because she "cares" about our safety. With the teachers being racist, I've come from a predominantly white elementary school. In the summer, when I attend college, I will have white professors. It is guaranteed. What does their race have to do with our education??? Why exactly do they have to relate to us to prepare us for the ACT and writing bomb essays? There's not a single teacher there racist. There is a fair amount of black, asian, latino, and white teachers there. If anyone is racist, it should be her. Our former principal, did connect with us. Yes, he knew every single one of our names and always politely greeted us, but the LSC had it all wrong. As a STUDENT of King, many students had so much respect for him where it was easy to flock to him for anything. It has nothing to do with him being a man and Mrs. Higginbottom being a woman. It's about how you connect with your students and how they connect with you. A fellow student said, he was copying someone's homework and the old principal sat down next to him, put away to hmwk the student was copying, and tutored him. Now how does his race key in to tutoring the student?
    She has an authority issue. As if everyone has to bow down to her. Yes, she is our principal. Yes, we should respect her. No problem. But she should respect us. Respect the teachers. Don't walk around like "Queen Avalon" while disrespecting people and expect immediate respect. Disrespecting = Using vulgar language to students, parents, and teachers. It is true that she has had a fair amount of people crying and furious with her disrespecting them. Just like the coach situation. Mrs. Higghinbottom cursed him out first, and yes the coach retaliated with more curse words. But it's just the simple fact that how professional is she?
    As a representative of King College Prep, we are not asking her to resign (although that would not be bad at all) we just want her to LISTEN TO US. for once, hear what we've got to say. respect us and be courteous. King has a body of students that will not retaliate with anger or violence, but students that will debate and SIT to get our points across and be heard. it is not over yet. There is still more to come.
    I just want to go one day without hearing her name. I just want to go one day without some NEW rule being enforced on us. I just want to graduate a happy senior.

  • In reply to KingStudent54:

    Dear Kingstudent54, good point of view. Good luck.

  • The things that are posted here about this woman is a known fact!! She is nothing more than a BULLY who gets off on threatening people in order to make them adhere to her rules. Like the previous comments stated, this lady is mentally unstable and should not be allowed to work with high school students let alone serve in a leadership role such as this. She gets a small army of people who have a mentality quite like hers and attacks people who are not supporting her crazy demands!! As a matter of fact, there was an LSC meeting at King College Prep yesterday, 12/18/2012 and some of us received the following literature about this woman and her TERRIBLE character! Unlike the King54 stdent, I am a parent an I am demanding her resignation!! Please note the following letter:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is a letter in reference to what is going on at King College Preparatory Academy. I am a concerned parent and I choose to remain anonymous to protect the privacy of my child.

    Ms. Shontae Allen-Higginbottom was selected as Principal of King due to politics at its finest. Now, The LSC President, Lance Williams, spoke on WVON radio station (1690 AM) and spewed A LOT of lies about this educational institution. I find it absolutely amazing that the people on the LSC are practicing racism at it’s finest. Mr. Williams stated that one of the problems at King is that the teacher population is over 50-60% White and the majority of the students are African-American. Should African-American kids only be educated by African-American Teachers when CLEARLY, the world is diverse? Then he went on to state that teachers absent rate at KCP is very high and that is indeed not true. The teachers at King College Prep are being targeted because it is the LSC and the Principal’s desire to create a climate and culture at King of a pro-Black nature. Mr. Williams also stated that the parents of King College Prep were not involved parents of the school…another FALSE statement. I, along with many parents at the school are actively involved parents which is why you have a lot of push back about the LSC’s selection of this new Principal. I clearly believe that the board needs to make some more requirements for people who serve on the LSC.

    Secondly, the LSC did not present the parents, teachers, nor the students with a VIABLE Principal candidate who had a high school background. This was one of the main concerns at that time. The LSC refused to wait or continue the process because of the political connections of Mr. Ben Washington, Lance Williams, Reginald Jones, and Kathy Dale to Shontae Higginbottom and her husband (big time realtor Elzie/Ezzie Higginbottom). In regards to Reginald Jones, rumor has it that Mrs. Higginbottom allowed one of his children to enter King after the deadline of Principal’s Discretion. So, talk about the game of politics.

    As a parent, I have been informed several times that Mrs. Higginbottom has had personal meetings with other people declaring her removal of the White teachers and targeting those teachers and students who was not supportive of the changes that she plan to make. Mrs. Higginbottom does not possess a character nor personality suitable for King College Preparatory. The name of the school itself is representatitive of a man who stood for equality of ALL people and how dare she and her comrades take this approach and allow the students to not receive an education where they can be educated by any person of any color who is qualified.

    Upon my first meeting with Mrs. Higginbottom, she was very disrespectful to her students and parents by downing the schools academic abilities. Mr. Lance Williams, President of the LSC, also stated on WVON (1690 AM) that King was the selective enrollment school in the “Black” community and that again, is untrue. King, like any other selective enrollment school, is just not available for “Black” students. This type of thinking can not and should not be left to be embedded into the brains of impressionable students.

    While Mrs. Higginbottom and her comrades seek to bring King to an all “Black” environment, she is creating a prison culture as well. Mrs. Higginbottom came in to change the rules not making ANYONE feel comfortable yet treating them like prisoners. In the first week or so of her being at the school, she also put a velvet rope around part of the main office so no one could enter it, she demanded that the kids not be allowed to leave the lunchroom once they were in there, she chained the doors, and told students that they could not longer sit in the front of the school to wait for their parents. Now, once you begin to treat students like prisoners, surely they will act like it. This is in no way the proper approach to improving scores nor getting the results you would like to see. While they are busy comparing King College Prep to other selective enrollment schools, let the record show that those students are not cut off from their school but feel a part of the environment. School is where students should feel comfortable about attending not made to feel enslaved. It is amazing to me how they can be so pro-black yet treating each other like slaves.

    Another concern of mine is that under the leadership of Mr. Jeffrey Wright, King College Prep received many accolades and many honors. The band even performed at the Inaugural Celebration of President Barack Obama. In fact, in 2011, King College Prep was one of 25 Illinois high schools honored by the Illinois State Board of Education as a 2011 Academic Improvement Award Winner for its improved performance on state achievement tests. My last concern is that, if King was doing so horrible for the last several years, where were all the complaints that Mr. Lance Williams and his comrades has about King College Prep. This is just a sad attempt for him and the rest of the LSC to bring the school culture to an ALL BLACK environment and to continue the political connections and ties to Mrs. Shontae Higgingbottom. If you think King is suffering now, if this lady remains to be Principal, King will revert back to the old King it once was before becoming a selective enrollment school. The more recent KCP students go to college and they stay there!

    The following excerpt was taking from CPS own Office of academic enhancement:
    This Month’s Featured School: King College Prep High School

    For years, the South Side high school at 4445 S. Drexel Blvd., just blocks away from President Obama’s home, was considered a neighborhood-only school, not known for its academics or diversity. This year, though, it was ranked by Chicago Magazine as number nine out of all of the high schools in the city of Chicago and was previously named a Silver Medal school by U.S. News and World Report - the same category as Whitney Young High School and Lincoln Park High School.
    King has received recruitment visits from a wide variety of post-secondary institutions, including such standout institutions as Morehouse College and Stanford University and, under its new principal, Shontae Higginbottom, plans to continue its tradition of promoting excellent college options for students.

    For students from all walks of life, King truly offers a wide array of academic, artistic and athletic programs. Highlights of these programs include a nationally recognized engineering program – Project Lead the Way – and an architecture program developed by the Chicago Architectural Foundation. King also offers advanced college prep courses, visual and performing arts, and informational technology courses.

    King also has countless art clubs and organizations and a plethora of sports designed to help students achieve self-discipline and balance -- not to mention an award-winning band that has been one of the few high school bands to appear at Mardi Gras for the last two years, played at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, and recently won its fourth straight victory at the Battle of the Bands at Soldier Field.

    That option will not happen if this school is led down the wrong path, teachers are targeted and can not be comfortable in their work environment, and students are made to feel like prisoners!!!


    A concerned parent tired of the shenanigans!

  • To the parent and King student;

    Been in this battle with this person before. Praying for you guys. In the long run things will work out just fine. Remember this .....doing the wrong thing all the time always catches up and is only beneficial to that person for a short time. In the long run the Students at King will come out of this ahead. This is just one of the storms in life. Give it to God and continue doing the right thing and you've already won. You guys got this.


  • http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121219/kenwood/king-principal-apologizes-after-sit-in-but-parents-remain-wary

  • I attended the LSC meeting on 12/19/12 and I left with a very heavy heart. Nothing was resolved, no concerns were addressed and parents left the meeting extremely upset.

    My son is a Junior at KCP and attended this school without any of his friends. He decided to attend the school because of the staff, the past principal and the students that told him he would not regret being a KCP Student. The students were so proud to be a part of KCP.

    We are a Hispanic family and we are very upset that this new principal is putting black against white and white against black. My son deserves an education regardless of race! Regardless of whether its a White/Hispanic/Black/Asian teacher that is teaching my child. If they are educated teachers with degrees why can they not teach my child? Just because the principal and lsc board believes the school is prominently black doesn't mean we have to have all black teachers and students. Every teacher that my son has had in the past three years has pushed him to do more just because you're a great student doesn't mean you can't achieve more.

    My son stood at every open house to speak to parents and new students about KCP. He encouraged students to attend the school and now he feels that he has failed his peers due to King students and teachers spirits being broken by this principal.

    I'm asking for her to resign and for parents to stand up for your children. Listen to them, stand up with them and fight for what the school was and can be!

    Attend the Town hall meetings, LSC meetings (next LSC mtg 1/9/13 @ 6pm) and get involved. According to the LSC parents aren't involved enough, our email and contact information is not up to date. So please spread the word, update your information, be involved and aware of what they are not informing us about. I love and adore my son but if things don't change at King than I have no other choice but to transfer my son out of the school.

    Concerned and disappointed Parent of a Junior KCP Student

  • In the article about where Higginbottom is apologizing she stated something along the l lines of loosing her temper when her subordinates talked backed to her and did not follow directions.

    That was a problem at Avalon. We were subordinates taking directives from her. She did not view us as a colleague leading us together to educate. She looked down on us. Just like that statement .... Higginbottom said " If anyone talks back to you, you will have a slight temper when your subordinates don’t follow your directives.”

    The teachers at King are her subordinates to her. She said so herself. You're lower than her.

    Same game different school.

    Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121219/kenwood/king-principal-apologizes-after-sit-in-but-parents-remain-wary#ixzz2FWwZS9iG

  • Why didn't Morgan Park pick her?


  • http://schoolreports.cps.edu/SchoolProgressReport_Eng_2012/609751_40_KING_HS_ENGLISH_609751_Standard.pdf

  • CPS needs to get some restorative justice at KCP with the LSC-principal, if it is not too late. Someone must be talking to her--a great mentor should be there for her everyday. she has a contract--unless CPS proves and takes a stand on the racism that has been brought forth here. The CPS employee discipline code is clear. Any help from LSC relations?

  • little lsc relations can do--lsc should not say racist things--cps cannot stop them how many lsc members met training requirment? finger printing? but they dont have to do that either

  • I am a parent at King College Prep and I must say that the Board of Education has failed our children as usual. The principal at King College Prep is not qualified to lead a diverse group of staff or students. I saw her, never met her; however saw her and was not impressed. She appeared to be more like a sister girl, not a professional educator. I remember my student coming home to tell me the meeting she had with the students the first time she met them and it was very tacky, very unprofessional, especially coming from a principal. She needs to leave the Education system and take the local student council with her. Many of them do not have degrees nor do they understand the qualifications of an Educator. I would pray that she never disrespects my child or that would be the end of her career!!!

  • Higginbottom sounds a lot like the principal at Kipling, Lawanda Bishop. Bishop is worst which is why you never hear anything about her. Don't believe the test scores either. The administration's got BIG erasers. It's a shame--too many principals like this in CPS.

  • What is it with these bizarre area names (Rock Island Network, Fulton Network), their even more bizarre slogans- "Where task predicts performance", and most of all these weird new websites?



  • CPS changes area/dept. names to confuse the intelligent and media as well as to hide the guilty. Elaborate network websites are there because networks workers have nothing better to do and are not in the schools helping. They have to show a reason for all the funding given to them--where these funds should go to the schools and students where they are needed most. .

  • Rock Island Network's online resource guide is chock full of dead links, old links, and one that directs you to the 9/11 conspiracy film "Loose Change".

    Seriously, this is the amateur hour. CPS is devoid of educators at 125, in the area orifices, and at the principal level. Why would you create a crummy website and not realize it reinforces your ineptitude.

    Maybe area chiefs don't know they are inept.

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    My name is Cathy Dale, and I am on the Local School Council at Martin Luther King College Prep. I am one of the LSC members who voted unanamously for Mrs. Higginbottom. We did an extensive principal search and had a number of very qualified candidates. Of these candidates Mrs. Higginbottom fit what we were looking for best. First, although her administrative tenure was only elementary she taught high school for many years. She taught at Kenwood High school who has the same demograhics as King.

    When the LSC interviewed Mrs. Higginbottom, we shared our concerns about our school. Concerns like teachers telling students that they were too smart to go to a HBCU and asking students why would they want to go to a Historically Black College? I know many students who have personally shared that with me and other parents.
    Secondly, many of the teachers have been at King since my son was there. Yes, the Board of Ed and the magazines promote King as a high performing school. I beg to differ. Look at the test scores. King ranks the lowest among all the Selective Enrollment schools. We are performing just a little above Kenwood. Kenwood is a neighborhood school who does not select their students. I am not being critical of our scholars. I am very critical of many of the teaching staff. Ten years ago when asked about every student doing at least one science project during the time at King, the chair of the science department with the Principal sitting there, felt comfortable enough in a parent advisory committee meeting to say "she had a life and that it was unreasonable to expect every child at King to do a science project before graduating." Fast forward 8 years later, I asked the same question of the science department chair, who happened to be the same chair that these kids are not ready and it was unreasonable to expect every child to do a science project before graduating. Everyone should have a problem with that. The teachers themselves constantly complain that these kids are not smart enough to be at King. Well my position is this. Where ever a scholar comes in academically they should at least move one full academic year. The reports dont tell that King is on academic watch. That means our scholars are not performing. I don't blame the scholars. I blame the teachers and the administration that hired them. I blame administration that LIES to parents a students that the school is doing great.
    The past administrator did have a great relationship with the scholars. What has not been told is that the scholars called him Jeff, and were allowed to leave and re-enter the school at their will. As a parent I did not send my child to the school to bond with and relate to the Principal as their peer. I know for fact, that students cut classes and the attendance records were not reported to reflect this. The school was unsafe. There were many times I was at the school and saw scholars in the building as late as 8pm unsupervised.
    As far as Mrs. Higginbottom being unprofessional. I have observed her talking to students and parents with a welcoming attitude. Teachers have not and do not want to be held accountable. Teachers openly talk about her in front and to students. Totally unacceptable!!! Keep scholars out of adult stuff.
    The day of the sit in most scholars did not know what was going on. Teachers told scholars to leave class and join their fellow scholars in the protest. These te

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    These teachers should be FIRED. Dr. Little from Barbara Bird Bennett's office ordered Coach to tell scholars to go back to class and he did not do that. If these teachers do not take direct orders from the head of the board of education then you can only imagine how they respond to Mrs. Higginbottom as their Instructional leader. Teachers began telling scolars that they should protest about all the changes that the new administration has put in place. Every change that Mrs. Higginbottom has put in place was supported by the LSC and is and was for the safety of everyone. Things like following the board of educations requirement that everyone must wear ID's. The protest took place a short time after the begining of school. Imposible to learn every scholars name in such a short period of time. However if theywore ID's that certainly would help her. Teachers and scholars protested this. Making sure scholars were in class and not in hallways during class. Making sure girls were not in the boys locker room at any time. Making sure that scholars were not left in building after hours.
    Teachers summited grievances against the past administration too but no one talks about that. Teachers are now required to do lessons plans. Wow, can you believe that? I thought that was an automatic expectation.
    The LSC did do our due diligence when choosing Mrs. Higginbottom.
    We did an unanounced visit to Avalon Park and observed safety measures right away, that were very impressive. The staff was very welcoming. We observed classrooms where children were totally engaged in learning. We spoke with many of the teachers and staff and got positive feed back. Again, unanounced visit.The school was clean inside and out. I spoke with two people at random, who lived on the block. They spoke of how the school works to keep the neighborhood safe. Prior to Mrs. Higginbottom becoming the Principal, gangs ruled the playground and the corners. I had two children with me who I allowed to play on a beautiful play lot.
    So I simply ask that anyone who has concerns about the school please go talk to Mrs. Higginbottom yourself and not listen to disgruntled people who will use scholars to do adult dirty work.
    King is moving in the right direction under Mrs. Higginbottom.
    Thank you.

  • In reply to Cathy Dale:

    Ta- daaaaah!


    Smells the same as Avalon to me.

  • Riiiioooooght! (Sigh)

    Funny I am sitting here at home relaxing. I don't see any monkeys flying out of my butt.

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