New LSC clashes with administration

Feb. 9 meeting brings up questions of blame, policy agendas


LSC meets virtually on Feb. 9.

During a meeting on Feb. 9, administrators including Principal Paul J. Powers and Assistant Principal Eric Mitchell expressed concern with the newly elected Local School Council and their purported lack of communication and willingness to work together with the administration.

Many of the new LSC members, who were voted into office on Dec. 3, came into their new term with an agenda prioritizing accountability and transparency from the Jones administration regarding topical issues such as anti-racism efforts and school reopening.  

However, the administration is concerned with the “finger-pointing” and heavy criticism they have been receiving from the council, according to Mitchell.  

“LSCs do not run schools,” said Mitchell in his remarks at the meeting.  “They should work with the school and support their initiatives to improve the school. You all may claim

this is your intention; however, thus far that has not been your impact.”

Mitchell said the LSC was not informed of these remarks prior to the meeting but reached out to the administration after the meeting to clarify some intentions.  Mitchell asserted that criticism of the administration was spread through emails to staff, via social media, and that there was “bashing” of individuals who disagreed with the council’s agenda.

“As an administration, we try to put certain things in place and we’re always kind of criticized about what we’re doing,” said Mitchell.  “Some peoples’ criticisms are positive, but there are a lot of peoples’ criticisms that are negative.  We spend a lot of time dealing with the negative scrutiny, and some of that was coming from various members of the [new] LSC.”

Alongside efforts to address anti-racism at Jones on the institutional level, the LSC sent an open letter to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education, CEO, and Mayor Lightfoot asking for CPS to redistribute funds used for reopening high schools to improving the quality of remote learning.  LSC Chair Cassie Creswell noted the difficulties the new council faces as a result of the timing of their term start.

“Starting mid-year [the LSC] really needs a lot of information, and we’ve been asking for that from the administration,” said Creswell.  “I think the school community heard the statements from the principal and the assistant principal at the meeting, and the LSC was not told ahead of time that those statements were going to be made.  Certainly, on my end, I have been very communicative with the administration and I think that is super important going forward so the LSC has what it needs to fulfill its duties.”

Powers, while voting in favor of the reopening letter, reiterated Mitchell’s view that there is potential for improvement in terms of the relationship between the two bodies and that the LSC was unnecessarily confrontational.

“The LSC has too often assumed an adversarial stance characterized by accusations and demands of the leadership team that ignore and insult the work and dedication we have given to our school family,” said Powers during the meeting.  “This is my 47th year in the field of education, and I know who I work for—I work for the students and their families, always striving to make Jones an even better place for our kids to learn and grow.”

Right now the LSC plans to review and attempt to incorporate student demands over anti-racism efforts spanning curriculum, restorative justice, and School Resource Officers.  The administration is also in the process of creating and implementing an anti-racist plan, which includes the oversight of outside groups including Mikva Challenge and Equal Opportunity Schools.

“[We’re] addressing a mix of new demands and related demands made by the Black Coalition and really looking at what we can do as an LSC to see where the budget is directed and what the School Improvement Plan looks like,” said Creswell.  “More generally, I also think there’s a huge demand for attention to student mental health and whether we’re really providing the supports that students need I think has been a question from both students, parents, and the LSC.”

Creswell is part of a coalition of former LSC candidates, including Jose Hernandez, Sarah Ma, and Roberto Menjivar, all of whom now serve on the council, who advocated for a platform of information transparency, specific anti-racist improvements, and inter-LSC communication across schools.

“LSCs exist to give all school stakeholders a democratically-elected voice in how our schools run,” said their mission statement.  “A well-functioning LSC is the steward of a school’s culture and vision.”