A stirring surprise 

Jones students left shaken after LSC reveals its efforts to remove Dr. Powers


*indicates a name has been changed to protect a student’s identity

Jones students have mixed feelings about the recent attempts of the Jones Local School Council (LSC) to remove long standing principal Dr. Paul Joseph Powers.

In February, three members of the Jones LSC wrote a letter to Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez calling for Powers to be removed, citing a number of allegations  ranging from improperly reporting money to mishandling student concerns. The Jones community learned about these attempts only after the letter was released to the media, leaving students surprised and conflicted. These efforts were solidified after the March 8 LSC meeting, where the majority of LSC members decided to vote in favor of beginning the removal process.

“I was not expecting this at all. Whenever anyone before this has talked of removing Dr. Powers, it’s been a joke,” said George McDonald ‘22*. “I feel like if Dr. Powers were to actually be removed, the community would have known beforehand.”

While some were caught off guard, there was a suspicion that this LSC would try to remove Powers. 

“I did expect that they would try something,” said Student Government President Zoe Weinstein ‘22. “At the beginning of the year, this LSC stood out from years past, as meetings started to be so much longer than before, and they began to request more and more stuff.”
Whether students expected the LSC to make this move or not, many disapprove of how they went about the removal process. 

“I think that the LSC trying to remove Dr. Powers during the middle of his contract is a misuse of LSC power,” said Weinstein. 

People who support changes within administration at Jones are also in agreement that the LSC actions are in the wrong, especially when it comes to how they left students in the dark about their efforts. 

“I personally do not support the Jones administration,” said McDonald. “However, the LSC’s rash and reckless actions, especially with how they did not tell anyone, including the LSC student reps, makes me disapprove of their efforts.” 

Sophie Saines ‘23 believes that the way LSC went to the media before contacting students regarding the accusations against Powers highlights their motives. 

“I feel like for the LSC to vote on this and take it to the media before informing any of the students makes me feel that they are acting entirely in their own self interest,” said Saines. 

There are also concerns that the LSC is trying to pin all of the issues at Jones on Powers when they should really be addressing more systemic issues.

“Individuals, especially individuals with power, need to stop tiptoeing around systemic and deep seated issues to avoid accountability,” said LSC student representative Alex Kerr ‘23.

Many students also expressed that they didn’t feel their voices were being heard in LSC meetings. For example, the three student representatives on the LSC often feel like they aren’t given the same amount of respect as other members.

“It’s very stressful to be in a dynamic where we are students and other people aren’t,” said LSC student representative Will Clancy ‘22. “Especially because it feels like many of the other members don’t take us seriously.”

They also felt that the school community in general, not just the LSC, needs to be more receptive to student voices.

“Parents also need to be aware that we’re coming to these meetings to speak,” said LSC student representative Daniel Andrade ‘22. “Sometimes, it feels like they pick and choose which students to listen to and which students get left out.”

Others echoed the feeling that the LSC is not taking the opinions of students seriously.

“I think that the LSC needs to do a better job of listening to students, and their repeated dismissal and disrespect of students is really disheartening to see,” said Weinstein. “I think that if they are not listening to students, they are not serving students.” 

Weinstein also believes that this disrespectful behavior extends beyond the student body, and was prevalent at the LSC meeting on March 8. 

“There was a clear difference in respect given to speakers who were presenting opinions that didn’t align with the opinions of LSC members, [the LSC members] are openly and incredibly disrespectful,” said Weinstein. “When I spoke, I was shocked by Cassie Cresswell’s behavior in response to my statement, where she was rolling her eyes and shaking her head at me, which I thought was incredibly disrespectful.” 

Despite the controversy surrounding LSC’s actions, there is still some support for removing Dr. Powers. 

“Ultimately, I think he should be removed because he has let years of abuse and misconduct slide,” said Saines. 

Weinstein believes that a removal would cause more disruption than good. 

“Having a brand new principal is not going to be materially better for students, but probably worse due to a lack of consistency,” said Weinstein.

Beyond the attempts to remove Powers, some students are looking for a larger reform at Jones. 

“I want the school community to start prioritizing minority students, especially students of color,” said McDonald.