Ray LSC stumbles on way to picking principal

By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
Staff Writer

The Ray Elementary School local school council (LSC) voted to postpone its selection of a new principal at its special meeting Wednesday night. The parents as well as the governing body was fractured in its response to the candidates chosen by the LSCs Principal Screening Committee.

After a closed session, which took about three hours, the LSC returned to open session to announce that it narrowed the list of finalists down to two, Beth Bazer and Lisa Dallacqua, and wanted the parents and teachers to meet with the candidates again to give the finalists and the “Ray community more exposure to each other,” said LSC Chairman Gordon Mayer.

The LSC plans to contact Bazer and Dallacqua to schedule the meetings for Friday, May 30, or Tuesday, June 3, during the coffee hour after-school drop-off for parents and during teacher lunch periods.

The LSC plans to make a final decision on a candidate by Wednesday, June 4.

Earlier in the meeting, during the public comment section, parents expressed their opinions on how the LSC should move forward based on the recommendations from the Principal Selection Committee.

Some parents felt that the candidates chosen were the best qualified to help the school return to a level one on the Chicago Public Schools ranking system.

“I urge the LSC to come to a consensus tonight,” said Ray parent Sylvia Ellis, who was a part of the LSC Principal Selection Committee. “We were able to find three good candidates. There is no use in waiting because other schools are looking at these candidates as well, so we can’t waste time.”

Many of the parents spoke about the lack of diversity on the panel and viewed the three finalists as career-driven individuals who only seemed interested in building up their resumes.

Betsy Benito, Ray parent, said Interim Principal Antonia Hill should be reconsidered as a finalist.

“I don’t know politics of school but I was surprised not to see her,” Benito said. “Some parents are saying race doesn’t matter, but race does matter.”

Benito, who has biracial children, said diversity among the candidates should not be the only consideration but it is something to consider because the school’s previous principal “[Tatia] Beckwith was very disrespectful to parents of color.”

Other parents spoke of Hill’s work in fixing Ray’s budget, reducing class sizes, having a good relationship with parents and her previous experience as the principal at Pershing East Elementary School, which is a magnet school, as reasons she should still be considered for the position.

Some parents were asking the LSC to postpone the vote because they felt the candidates chosen were not well qualified.

“We’d rather have an interim for three more months than a bad principal for three more years,” said Paula Florell.

Knowing that the network will assign a principal if the LSC does not make a decision by the end of June, Amy Levine, teacher representative on the LSC, said Ray teachers wanted the LSC to make a final decision on Wednesday night.

“We do not want CPS to make the decision,” Levine said. “We are
afraid to let CPS or the network get their hands on our school.”

UPDATE: The final two candidates for Ray principal will be available to meet this Monday and Tuesday, June 2 and 3, from 8:15 a.m. to 10 a.m., at the Ray cafeteria. Dallacqua will be on-site Monday; Bazer will be available Tuesday.