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Prairie Crossing Principal Brian Greene Dismissed

"This amounted to a witch hunt fueled by self-interest," said Anthony Esposito, attorney for Principal Brian Greene, after the PCCS school board announced their unanimous decision to dismiss him.

School board members at the Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake voted 9-0 to fire Principal Brian Greene. Specific reasons for the action have not been stated publicly, a factor which upset many parents.

It was the second closed session meeting this week regarding Greene's future. The five-hour meeting that went into early Wednesday morning ended with the board postponing a decision until Friday night.

"It is a sad day for parents, students and teachers at this school," said Greene's attorney Anthony Esposito. "We came here to work out a deal to stay and it appeared that [the board] had their minds already been made up."

Board President Steve Achtemeier said at the beginning of the meeting that the board had not taken this situation lightly, adding, "I hope that we can come together and move forward."

Greene, principal since 2008 at the environmentally focused public charter school, was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 29. 

Esposito said he couldn't comment on what Greene's next steps would be, except to say that they were "considering all of their options, of which we think we have several."

Greene looked as if he was in shock after the announcement. When asked for a comment, he said, "There are no words." 

During the meeting, some parents criticized the board while others praised them for their service. When asked if he thought the critiques were fair, Director Nigel Whittington would only say, "The board has worked really hard."

No details were given about what may have led the board to fire Greene.

Only one board member made a comment before the vote. "I am so sad about we are about to do," said board member Jeff Barhorst. "It is sad, but more information has come to light."

Greene and his attorney both have gone on record to say that he did not do anything criminal. "Absolutely not," Esposito said. "Absolutely not."

Parents continued to ask why the board put Greene on leave and eventually fired him. "Has my son ever been in danger?" asked PCCS parent Thomas Hobbs. When he pressed the school board's attorney for an answer, he said no. 

Other parents and some teachers supported the board for doing their job in a difficult situation.

"I have faith in the board," said Carol Flaig, a PCCS teaching assistant, who emphasized she was speaking on her own behalf, not for all teachers. "This board does not make snap decisions."

Constantine Psimaras said the makeup of the board could be leading to the repeated turnover of school leadership. The board includes nine members, with six appointed by the board itself and three elected by parents.

"We need to look hard at changing the makeup of the board," Psimaras said. He suggested that the board should be four people appointed, four elected and one teacher representative.

After the vote for Greene's dismissal, Psimaras said, "It's a sad day."

Runner1 December 17, 2011 at 12:54 PM
If board president Achtemeier is interested in moving forward as a united community, then perhaps it was not constructive for his wife Karen to have attacked PCCS parents and former board members by name during the public comment session. The same false accusations that one parent had previously asked the board president to cease making (which he denied) are now, apparently, Karen's agenda to spread. The board composition MUST be changed - a majority of self-appointed board members, apparently, creates a board that does not feel that it is accountable to the public. Contact the Illinois State Board of Education and tell them that you want your public tax dollars spent on a school that is TRULY public.
Cathy Knight December 17, 2011 at 02:57 PM
I don't think the previous reader, Runner1, understands how personnel issues are handled - whether its an educational, municipal or business setting. There are certain situations where the Board of Directors are not able to comment on personnel issues to the press, public or parents with children in the school. As Executive Director Nigel Whittington, said numerous times "due to the sensitive nature of personnel issues, labor laws, and to protect Brian’s privacy, these issues cannot be discussed.” Any public school is required to handle personnel issues the exact same way. How can you imply the Board isn't doing their job when they are following legal mandates? Without being a Board member who is attending the closed session on personnel issues, no one can make a comment on what decision is right or wrong. As an administrator, Brian Greene knows this policy too. There will always be two sides to every issue.
marilyn December 17, 2011 at 04:26 PM
It looks like people are going to have to pull a FOIA if they want to know what is really going on. It seems to me though, that even if the in-bred Board won't or can't speak up, Mr. Greene could. There is no 'case', no gag order, so I am wondering why he couldn't just say what happened. If he didn't do anything criminal, or even 'wrong', it seems like he should just settle it once and for all by speaking up.
kevin December 17, 2011 at 05:31 PM
Good point. All this finger pointing at the board goes nowhere. Why doesn't principal Greene stand up and say 'this is what they are accusing me of'! If it is nothing then the community can stand behind him - but he doesn't. Why? because his attorney tells him not to say anything. Kind of like the Board. If the Board has made such a terrible error then why doesn't Greene come forward and reveal the accusations that are wrong???? Maybe there is more going on then the angry parents know.
Jim Turner December 17, 2011 at 05:57 PM
If there is some sort of privacy rule(I don't believe there is) then Greene needs to sign a waiver that allows the board to speak about what happened.
mjschumaker1 December 17, 2011 at 06:01 PM
So much for transparency and the public's right to know. I believe the board previously stated that Greene was NOT placed on administrative leave for anything of a criminal nature. If that's true, then what's the big secret? Did he say or do something over which some parent or board member got their nose out of joint? Sounds like a coverup to protect the public from backroom politics, and that some parents and / or the board have their undies in bunch. The public should contact the State's Attorney and demand an investigation of these closed door meetings and all the secrecy surrounding this issue.
Kevin December 17, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Why doesn't he??
Kevin December 17, 2011 at 07:07 PM
It was made clear it was not criminal nature - so again why doesn't the principal clear this up. You don't need to go to the State's Attorney to clear up the secrecy. Go to Mr. Greene. He has all the answers just like the board.
Runner1 December 17, 2011 at 07:49 PM
Mr. Greene will now communicate via his attorney in the process of litigation. He can no longer protect the interests of the school, rather now he can only protect his own interests. After the school spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in a wrongful termination suit, including punitive damages for damage to professional reputation, then perhaps we will know. NICE JOB King Achtemeier!
Dwight December 17, 2011 at 07:52 PM
I think Mr. Greene was a great principal but I also agree he could clear up alot of frustration if he would tell the parents what is going on. The Board has made it clear they are not talking (for legal reasons). Mr. Greene could gain more support if he would 'come clean'. I believe there are over 300 plus students at that school but only 50 parents or so showed up for these meetings. Also the final meeting last night my understanding was only 1 teacher showed up. What does that say???
mjschumaker1 December 17, 2011 at 08:14 PM
Greene may not be talking for legal reasons, too, beyond simply the advice of his attorney. He may have agreed with the board to hold his silence for some unknown reason or there could be a contractual reason of which we're not aware. In any event, agreed he could quickly clear this up by simply speaking out, but that holds for the board, too. Have read that he unexplainedly left his last employer, and has a history of short tenures elsewhere. Of course, PCCS knew this going into the situation when they hired him. Regardless, my main point is that if this is not a criminal matter, it should not be kept hidden in the dark. How do we know the man was given a fair hearing or not if it has been kept secret? There is no need for the school district to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars defending a wrongful termination suit that they invited by hiding in the dark.
Kevin December 17, 2011 at 10:45 PM
My bet is there will be no wrongful termination suit. That would lay all the facts out on the table which could hurt Greene more than help him. If it were so simple that he has been wrongfully accused he would be talking already - but he is silent. Odd how he left his last two positions under the same kind of circumstances.
Donny December 18, 2011 at 12:24 AM
We don't need a comment from the board to have a good idea as to why he was fired. by the board. Look in the news and you will see a general theme as to why a teacher or school administrator is fired.
Marie December 18, 2011 at 03:13 AM
This is the 3rd school Mr Greene has been in trouble with.. the last two agreed not to go public.. at least PCCS took a stand! No matter what he did (if it was the same as the previous school- no kids were in danger- just VERY wrong) the board does not make decisions like this in haste... Time to move on and celebrate the kids and theri accomplishments..
marilyn December 18, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Marie that is very interesting, that sort of pattern puts things in a different perspective. I just hope it is actual cause, and not something lame just to get him out of their if someone on the board doesn't like him for some reason. You know how it is, just being accused of something can wreck a person's career, even if it is false. I don't mean I hope anyone got hurt or anything, I just mean that I hope it is credible cause, not some vindetta by a board member(s).
Hurt Parent February 15, 2012 at 03:37 PM
FYI, prior to this position he was fired from the Hawthorn School in Vernon Hills for very good reasons. Ask any of the teachers, actually, you only have to ask the female teachers. It was a horrible time in the school district and it hurt the kids terribly because they were very attached to him and they felt abandoned. There are always two sides but don't jump down a school board's throat when you do not know everything. They had to have evidence, review things and have just cause or they would be facing a huge law suit. It sounds like some people have an issue with the Board. Grow up and look into what happened at Hawthorn North. You will have your answers and understand that Mr. Greene has hurt a lot of people and many teachers have left the schools and the profession because of him.
marilyn February 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
what happened at Hawthorne North? Is it documented? That would be interesting to see. I think sometimes, people get kids attached to them and can kind of hide behind that, andof course it makes the Board look like the bad guys. maybe that isn't the case here, but it is a textbook manipulation.
MG September 05, 2013 at 01:43 PM
i heard he was sleeping with some younger teachers at one school he was at but then it was a rumor...

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