It was a long night for parents, teachers and school board members at . A decision about the fate of Principal Brian Greene was put on hold after a special board meeting Tuesday night extended into Wednesday morning.
After nearly five hours of closed session discussion, a final decision was not reached regarding Greene's future. Board President Steve Achtemeier called for a vote to extend Greene's paid leave of absence for one more week, ending this Friday at 7 p.m. The board unanimously approved that decision.
Greene said he believed that everything could still work out.
"I am still hopeful that on Friday this goes the way that is the best for the school," Greene said. He said he was especially grateful for the support of teachers and parents, many who remained until the meeting ended around 1 a.m.
That support meant the world to Greene.
"I don't know what more a principal could want from his parents and his staff but this support," he said. "I think we're all focused on the kids and want the best for the school."
Questions and Support
The principal of the environmentally-focused charter school in Grayslake had been placed on administrative leave Nov 29. During a PCCS board meeting Dec. 6, school board members opted to extend Greene's paid leave for one more week. Neither board members nor Greene would give specifics about the reasons for the leave. The lack of any explanation bothered many of the parents at the PCCS school board meeting.
"As long as there is nothing criminal or illegal going on, I want Brian to keep his job," said PCCS parent Sonya Wolk Hobbs. She circulated a petition to officially reinstate Brian Greene as principal and had collected 86 people early in the evening.
"I think Brian is an incredibly good principal," Hobbs said. She added that the lack of information about Greene's forced leave in the middle of the school year made "the teachers feel like they are unsupported and the parents feel like they are unsupported."
Anita Thomas, a professor at Loyola, has twins in first grade at PCCS "I'm mad," she said in the first hours of the closed session. "Brian is very visible in the school and very supportive. To give him some type of remediation plan seems preferable to a sudden administrative leave in the middle of the school year."
Most of the comments from parents and teachers were in support of Greene. Some people asked the teachers who supported Greene to stand up, several did; others asked the parents who supported Greene to stand up, a majority of the room did.
Achtemeier only read a statement at the start of the meeting that said the board was bound by employment law to keep certain things confidential. "That protects both the school and the principal," Achtemeier said.
Former PCCS board member Laura Fay cited a common concern about attorney fees being spent in the process. "All these attorney costs come right out of the classrooms," said Fay. "This situation detracts from the focus of educating the students at a time when we really can't afford it. We have valuable employees here. The teachers need stability and support."
Greene joined PCCS in July of 2008. According to the PCCS website, he previously had taught in both public schools and worked in the administration offices of charter schools in Chicago.
Parents said they wanted answers. They had learned of Greene being put on leave through a letter from PCCS Executive Director Nigel Whittington. He stated that no details about reasons why the leave was necessary could be made public due to "personnel issues, labor laws and to protect Brian’s privacy.”
While no firm answers were received early Wednesday morning, parents and Greene seemed grateful for a few more days.