Richard Bryant was fired Monday from his post as a co-principal of the Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy roughly one month after the school resumed classes for its second year.
The Proviso Township board of education voted unanimously on Sept. 25 to act on Superintendent Stan Fields’ recommendation that Bryant be dismissed. Three board members, Charles Flowers, Theresa Kelly and Gary Marine abstained from the vote.
Prior to making its decision, the board met in executive session for roughly an hour. The board did not publicly discuss any reasons for the dismissal. Bryant was placed on paid administrative leave Sept. 1, one day after Forest Park police received a complaint from the district’s business manager that more than $2,600 in student fees was missing. According to the police report, two district employees named Bryant as the last person to be in possession of the funds.
Bryant’s former colleague and co-principal Melvin Berry will continue to fill both administrative roles at PMSA. Following the Monday night meeting, Berry said he had no opinion on the board’s decision.
“I’ve just got a job to do,” Berry said. “I come to do my job the best way I can.”
Flowers did not vote to oppose Bryant’s dismissal, but said the decision seems to unfairly target one individual for a financial indiscretion in a district that is rampant with such problems.
“We’ve got administrators in this district that have stolen from kids 10 times over,” Flowers said. “There’s no evidence of (Bryant) stealing anything.”
Bryant did not attend the meeting and did not return a phone call seeking comment. Fields said he had no knowledge of whether Bryant intends to sue the district.
The board’s discussion in executive session was lengthy, Fields said, and reflected the gravity of the situation.
“There was a healthy debate and considerable deliberation,” Fields said. “Not to sound dramatic, but we’re talking about somebody’s livelihood.”
Bryant was originally sanctioned by Fields after police received a report that $2,603.65 in student registration fees were missing. According to the police report, Angela Jackson, another employee in the main office, took the money from the school’s safe to give to Bryant. Jackson told police she handed the money to Bryant with the understanding it would be turned over to Proviso East High School, according to the report.
Nikita Johnson, the district’s business manager told police that Bryant “denies ever receiving the money,” according to the report.
Board President Chris Welch did not comment directly on the vote to fire Bryant, but praised Fields as a “knowledgeable man” who has identified a number of problems within the school district in a relatively short amount of time.
Bryant’s termination does not include any type of severance package, Fields said. Bryant held the administrative position when the math and science academy opened last year.
The district will begin advertising to hire a new principal at PMSA within the week.