Members of the Frederick Douglass Academy High School Local School Council learned Monday that the school has been tentatively taken off probation because of climbing test scores, leading some to question why CPS still wants to fire Principal Debra Crump.
“This occurred under Dr. Crump’s leadership, right here in this building,” LSC member Misty Brown said. “What are you going to do now Mr. Huberman? It’s a crock if they still try to remove her.”
LSC members attended last month’s Chicago Board of Education meeting to urge CPS officials to do a better job of communicating with them after learning Crump could be in jeopardy. Area Officer Rick Mills, who oversees Douglass, told AustinTalks that Crump was placed on a corrective action plan because of the West Side school’s performance but would not comment further about the longtime principal’s future.
Monday, at the LCS’s monthly meeting, members discussed how to maintain the school’s improved status and planned a rally for 3 p.m. today at the school in support of Crump. Some LSC members also talked about attending Wednesday’s CPS board meeting, during which a resolution to remove Crump could be considered.
“Turns out that our scores are up, and we are off probation,” said LSC member and Attendance Director Gwendolyn Drew. “Now that we’ve got the momentum going, we have to maintain it.”
Last week, at the area performance management meeting, Douglass was moved from level three to level two, a status that must be maintained for two years to keep the school officially off probation. Assistant Principal Douglass Key was presented with a trophy, which is being displayed in front of Crump’s office for all 480 students and 25 staff members to see.
“It’s significant that out of 26 area (schools), we are not among the six other schools still on probation,” Crump said. “We are officially improving. Now there are many more things we need to improve, but the main thing is that we are off probation.”
Crump said the performance management report was based on last year’s scores from the ACT Explore, ACT Plan and PSAE tests.
While a majority of LSC members hope the school’s improvement will persuade CPS officials to keep Crump, they aren’t banking on it and plan to rally today on campus, at 543 N. Waller Ave., after the last bell rings.
“We are going to march all the way around campus and get the district involved,” said LSC Chairman Evelene Gordon. “Change won’t happen over night or with the snap of a finger, but we will be heard.”
On Monday, LSC members learned a petition supporting Crump had been signed by 245 students; it will be presented to the school board, along with more news of improvement.
Drew said attendance rates rose last week to 76 percent, and are edging closer to the school’s attendance goal of between 78 and 80 percent.
“We are doing as much as we can to get the students in school and teach them,” said Claire Folk, LSC member and CPS teacher representative. “The only other thing we could do is to move in and live here.”
Crump said the school will receive $55,000 in stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which will pay for Kaplan and the Gains Education Group to teach testing strategy’s at Douglass. Money also will be spent to create a homework center, she said.
“We have a plan in place to train teachers in technology,” Crump said. “We are excited to see where we can go from here.”