Parents presented a petition with more than 200 signatures to the District 65 board of education Monday, asking the board to hire an assistant principal at Bessie Rhodes Magnet School.
After current Principal Adrian Harries Jr. announced he would resign last week following two years at Bessie Rhodes, parents say they are concerned about leadership at the school. Although the district appointed an interim principal on Monday, parents believe that an assistant principal is also necessary to retain current teachers and future principals.
Speaking to the board of education, parent Jennifer Phillips said the news of Harries’ departure spurred parents to action.
“We asked ourselves a question: what does it take to succeed? What does it take to have a principal that wants to make a permanent second home in our community?” Phillips said.
Counting the 2012-2013 school year, Bessie Rhodes will have had four different principals in five years. Harries took the reins from interim principal Jason Ewing, who helmed the school for one year after Pat Mitchell retired in 2009, following a decade at Bessie Rhodes.
“We don’t want to see any backsliding,” parent Victoria Vye told the board of education Monday. “We believe an assistant principal is imperative.”
Housing students in kindergarten through eighth grade, Bessie Rhodes is the only District 65 school that enrolls middle school students but does not have an assistant principal. It is also one of the smaller schools in the district, with two classes of 20 students per grade and about 350 students overall. But parents say its size should not prevent it from having an assistant principal.
“The size of the school is irrelevant,” the petition reads. “The demands on a K-8 principal encompass the full slate of responsibilities of a K-5 and a middle school principal.”
According to Vye, other District 65 schools have a 1.26 principal figure to student ratio, while Rhodes has a 1.35 principal to student ratio.
“As parents, we believe a K-8 school requires more than an exceptional principal,” Vye said. “We don’t want to see teachers leaving.”