For months, Antonia “Toni” Hill has been leading Ray Elementary School as its interim principal, following the removal of Tatia Beckwith. Owing to what has to be a technicality, Ray has been unable to conduct a formal search for a principal because the position is not officially vacant. Meanwhile, Hill has proven herself a capable leader.
The time has come for Chicago Public Schools leadership to let Ray begin its search for a new principal.
We have been told there’s an explanation for this long delay (Beckwith was removed in April), but that, because the removal is considered a personnel matter, we cannot be told the details. Well, we don’t need the details at this point. There’s simply no excuse for leaving both Ray and Hill in the lurch.
We understand that CPS is a complicated bureaucracy, but we also know that school begins in a few weeks, and Hill — or whoever replaces Beckwith — is going to have to scramble to prepare for what will be a intense school year for Ray. Because Canter Middle School is being closed down over two years, a new seventh grade class is beginning at Ray. This transition will be complex and require a great deal of preparation. As of now, the new principal will have just over a month to do it.
Meanwhile, Hill has taken the extraordinary step of resigning from her post at Pershing East Elementary School in Bronzeville. She could not send a clearer signal of her commitment to Ray. We wonder whether CPS will show even a fraction of that commitment by allowing the principal hiring process to begin.
By all accounts, Hill is a shoe-in for the position. She deserves the support she can expect as the new principal for Ray. Regardless of whether she gets the position or not, however, it is essential that Ray gets the support it needs to prepare for the difficult transition coming in the next year —which was initiated by CPS.
There is no real-world reason possible for not allowing the Ray community to select a leader now. CPS needs to get out of the way and let the process begin.