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."