After approving a resignation agreement with former Parker Junior High School Principal David Kennedy, Flossmoor District 161 Board of Education members Monday voted to appoint an interim principal at the school.
Vickie Person will take over as Parker’s principal on Sept. 19, Superintendent Craig Doster said.
Person is currently an assistant professor of education and alternative certification coordinator at Governors State University. She has served as a principal with Posen-Robbins School District 143.5.
The appointment follows a turbulent three weeks at Parker, and in District 161. Kennedy, who is facing a misdemeanor criminal charge in Will County, was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 23, the second day of the new school year. According to the legal agreement with Kennedy, which was made public as part of Monday’s board agenda, he submitted his resignation on Aug. 26.
According to the agreement, Kennedy resigned “under threat of termination.”
After a closed-door executive session at the end of Monday’s regular meeting, school board members quickly approved both the resignation agreement with Kennedy and the interim principal appointment. There was no public discussion of either action by board members. Person was not publicly identified as Parker’s interim principal candidate when board members voted on her appointment.
In response to a question from an audience member, Doster identified Person as the interim principal. Other audience members asked the board and superintendent about the steps that were taken in selecting Person for the job.
Doster said he made calls and contacted other educators to find good candidates for the principal post. He got in touch with the Illinois Principal Association and conducted interviews. He did not say how many persons were considered for the job.
He said no community members were involved in Person’s selection but assured the audience that Parker parents will be part of the process when a search for a permanent principal begins early next year.
Person comes highly recommended as a veteran administrator who has years of experience in area schools, Doster said. She has an excellent reputation in working with students, he said.
“She’s definitely a leader,” he said.
Person was hired on a 100-day contract, subject to renewal, Doster said. The contract includes a 60-day review period.
In recent weeks, a number of community members have lobbied school board members to select former Homewood-Flossmoor High School Principal Ryan Pitcock for administrative positions at Parker. The H-F school board, in a split vote, dismissed Pitcock in June. On Monday, attorney Dean Armstrong – who last month asked the District 161 to consider Pitcock for a Parker position – again spoke on his behalf.
Following Monday’s vote to appoint Person, Board President Stephen Paredes said she has the full support of the school board.
“She’s excellent,” Paredes said.
The start of the academic year at Parker was difficult, he said, but the school is functioning successfully, in large part because of efforts by teachers and parents.
“It’s been a group effort and we have moved forward,” he said.
According to the resignation agreement, Kennedy will receive $42,682 in severance pay. He will also be paid for 10 of his 20 vacation days. The eight-page agreement stipulates that neither Kennedy nor the school board members are to make disparaging comments about each other.
Kennedy was arrested and charged with misdemeanor domestic battery on April 24 following an incident at his home in Shorewood, according to a document from the Will County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. Physical contact between Kennedy and his spouse allegedly took place during the incident, the court document says. The case is headed to a jury trial, the document says.
District 161 board member Christine Marks cast the only vote against accepting the resignation agreement. She was asked by audience members why she voted against the agreement.
Public funds for education are limited, Marks said.
“We had an employee who could have continued serving the district,” Marks said.
That would have been better than paying the severance money, which Marks called “a poor use of taxpayer dollars.”
Board member Merle Huckabee said the former principal had to go, given the nature of the criminal charge against him.
“We thought it was best that he is out of the district,” she said.