The once stellar school board at Proviso Township High Schools continues to perplex and disappoint us. This was a district on the make. Coming back purposefully from rock bottom.
And then through a lack of united support, it lost a superintendent in Dr. Jesse Rodriguez who had led the comeback, working off the reform energy of the school board.
A year ago a board search process resulted in the hiring of Dr. James Henderson. His deeply blemished record in a succession of previous — and short — career stops gave us caution from the start. His efforts in Proviso since his arrival have only intensified our doubts.
Our negative view is not across the board. Today’s Review carries two stories of solid outcomes within the district this spring. One is the hiring of two Proviso students as paid summer interns with the general contracting firm leading the district’s necessary physical renovations. Very cool. The other story is about the open process which led the district to adopt a new Black history and equity curriculum while also teaming with Dominican University in River Forest on offering Proviso students dual credit for participating in this program.
These are worthy achievements and we are happy to give credit.
That said, the school board’s decision on June 8 to replace Henderson’s three-year contract before the first year is complete and to extend him a very generous five-year contract in its place is ridiculous and infuriating. Five-year superintendent contracts are far from the norm. Reupping a superintendent who has yet to go through anything approaching a normal school year, a superintendent who has taken a jackhammer to administrative staffing, a superintendent who blusters and runs roughshod over the school board, a superintendent who talks down the genuine progress this district has made rather than building on it, is impossible for us to explain.
We’re grateful that two board members, Amanda Grant and Claudia Medina, had the good sense to vote against this contract.
There is more trouble and disruption ahead.